A Ponsonby resident has reported jewellery stolen during an open home, prompting renewed warnings about the security of houses being displayed to the public.
Police say open homes can be targets for criminals and they advise homeowners to be careful about the monitoring and locking of houses.
Top Auckland agency Barfoot & Thompson says such incidents are "very, very rare" and the Real Estate Institute says registering the names of those attending has improved security.
In 2002, the institute hired private investigators and tightened security as organised thieves targeted open homes in Auckland's eastern suburbs and on the North Shore.
At least 29 houses were hit and police mounted a sting using private eyes, which helped lead to arrests.
Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson director, said his firm held hundreds of open homes every weekend.
Two-thirds of its properties for sale were open, as with most properties at auction or tender, yet there were hardly any problems. "It's very, very rare," he said.
But the Ponsonby victim, Sarah Wells, is angry that sellers and agents are not taking more care given the problem is not new and she warns owners and renters to be wary. Her jewellery was taken from a property she rents when it was offered for sale by the owner. She thought an agent would be there all the time and went away for the weekend, only to return to find the jewellery missing after the public had gone through.
On the evening of the open home, burglars tried to break in, but a friend staying there scared them away.
Sarah Wells complained to Barfoot & Thompson, whose Grey Lynn manager, Darren Guscott, apologised. He told her most people had home and contents insurance and questioned whether the goods were stolen at the open home, as she and her partner were away for the whole weekend.
But he also offered $250 as a "goodwill" gesture to assist with the loss.
In another incident, Takapuna homeowner Janetta Lauren was astonished to see a real estate agent quickly depart an empty Hart Rd property she was viewing this month.
With her husband, she was putting on shoes outside the unit as the agent left. The couple realised the door was still open and went back to shut it in amazement.
Auckland city police communications manager Noreen Hegarty warned that open homes provided a prime target for criminals.
"There's an opportunity for people to case the joint and there are quite often indications as to how the owners are employed, where they are employed, what their times of work are," she said.
Vendors had to sign up an agency that they trusted.
Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan warned homeowners were not strictly covered for open home thefts. But in most cases, he said, insurers did pay to keep the client.
Tremains, one Hawkes Bay agency, advises people:
* Ensure the agent and one other person are at the open home.
* Check insurance policies to make sure they are up to date.
* Remove all items of special value such as jewellery.
* Confirm with the agent that a register of those attending is being kept.
* The agent is entitled to ask people attending to show photo ID on your behalf before letting them in.
* Don't leave more than one door unlocked.
* Don't leave any small valuable items such as rings or cash lying around.