A Tauranga man is "scared to go out" and has been living in his workshop for months after a lockdown theft left him "psychologically damaged".
Dennis James, who has owned Freemont Plastics in Greerton since
1989, was hit hard
when thousands of dollars worth of tools and machinery were stolen from his workshop during lockdown.
James, in his 60s, decided to stay with family when the country moved to alert level 4.
His workshop was padlocked but in May thieves broke in and stole specialised tools and equipment he had acquired over the past 30 years.
He told the Bay of Plenty Times at the time that he was considering not reopening his business.
James said he was still trying to build up his stocks again "bit by bit" three months on from the break-in.
There were still projects he needed to finish and he was slowly getting back on track, he said.
Friends had lent him tools to get him by and he had been having "a big clean-up" and selling various bits he did not need to fund new equipment.
However, he said the theft had affected his mental health severely and he was "psychologically damaged" as a result.
"I am scared to go out and I've decided I won't be going away again ... I thought I'd get over it but I haven't been able to.
"I'm living in the workshop full time now."
He said he was still weighing up whether to sell the business and if someone wanted to buy it, they would "get a bargain".
"The less you have, the less you can get hurt."
He was close to retirement age and said he "just needed some energy" to keep going.
However, James said he believed he had "just slipped down a snake and there would be a ladder up the road", referring to board game Snakes and Ladders.
"I don't want people to feel sorry for me."
He had added additional security to the business to ensure what happened to him did not happen again.
The incident had been reported to the police.
Victim Support researcher Dr Petrina Hargrave said burglaries were a "frightening and traumatic experience" and often had "long-lasting emotional and financial consequences".
"Victims may be frightened for a long time afterwards, have trouble sleeping and concentrating, and maybe jumpy at any sound or wary of strangers."
She said burglaries could sometimes be a "tipping point" for victims and they may never recoup the costs.
People who got burgled should contact police to keep themselves safe but they were also entitled to free support from Victim Support.
Senior clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in clinical psychology at Massey University Dr Kirsty Ross said many people felt a "sense of vulnerability" and that the world was "not a safe place" in lockdown, so those affected by trauma during this period would likely have experienced a "stronger response".
She said how people responded to trauma differed from person to person.
Watchdog managing director Brett Wilson said they had seen a "significant drop" in burglaries over alert levels 4 and 3 but he was not sure whether this would remain the same if the country was to go back in alert levels.
"There could be a push-back this time around."
He said people should ensure their alarms were functioning well and keep in touch with their security provider about their plans.
Commercial premises without security measures should consider opting-in, as another lockdown could leave them "vulnerable" with no one able to keep an eye on their site, he said.
Bay of Plenty district commander superintendent Andy McGregor said police recognised the impact of the pandemic would be felt by a range of different groups in society, including a large number of previously financially secure workers and business owners.
He said post-lockdown, crime was expected to return to normal levels, but it was anticipated that some crime rates could potentially increase over and above normal levels, particularly in the short term.
Police were prioritising engagement with communities and building on existing multi-agency and co-response initiatives in a "post-Covid policing" environment, he said.