Po­lice give low­down on bur­glars


A spike in bur­glar­ies has sparked talk of a neigh­bour­hood watch around Toko­roa’s Mel­rose Place.

Bur­glary num­bers in Toko­roa sky­rock­eted over the school hol­i­days and it seems the cul­prits tar­geted homes they knew, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Se­nior Sergeant Graeme Hill said the av­er­age of two bur­glar­ies a week jumped to 10 in the fi­nal seven says of the school hol­i­days.

He said the cul­prit of­ten was some­one who had been been in­side the vic­tim’s house.

Vic­tim Rachel Ben­nion ar­rived to her Mel­rose Place home at night with her two tod­dlers and no­ticed some­thing un­usual.

‘‘What I usu­ally do is leave my hall­way light on but when I pulled up it was off. That’s when I knew some­thing was not right,’’ she said.

Ben­nion ar­rived home to an un­locked screen gate which has a unique way of open­ing and knew the in­truder might still be there.

‘‘I was that shaken that I couldn’t even pick up my keys,’’ she said.

The 32-year-old raced out to the car, where she feared who­ever had been in her house may have got to her chil­dren.

She dis­cov­ered pos­ses­sions worth about $900 stolen.

‘‘I’m quite a trust­wor­thy person. I just say ‘go in and open the screen gate’. It had to be some­one who has seen me open and close it,’’ she said.

Now even just hang­ing out the wash­ing prompts her to lock up.

‘‘I thought this would never ever hap­pen to me. It’s scary still be­ing on the radar,’’ she said.

Sur­pris­ingly, the in­ci­dent has not tar­nished her opinion of the town.

‘‘I love Tok, I’ve got a huge fam­ily here and it’s just this one lit­tle muck up,’’ she said.

The in­ci­dent has ral­lied her ‘‘awe­some’’ neigh­bour­hood to fight back with a small com­mu­nity watch.

Hill said the main items stolen in the bur­glar­ies were frozen meat and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble valu­ables such as lap­tops and phones.

His best ad­vice was to ‘‘close it up and lock it’’.

‘‘We’re not in the 1960s any more where you can go to the pub with­out lock­ing up,’’ he said.

Keep­ing valu­ables hid­den would help steer off ‘‘lazy’’ bur­glars who only stole items they could see, he said.

‘‘We do have peo­ple who leave their home and lock it up and they get tar­geted.

‘‘Try mak­ing things as hard as pos­si­ble,’’ he said.

The most com­monly tar­geted ar­eas were around al­ley­ways or ‘‘crime cor­ri­dors’’.

Ar­eas such as St An­drews and Jed­burgh places were where peo­ple could stay out of view, Hill said.

Toko­roa po­lice ‘‘ braced them­selves’’ as they ex­pected more bur­glar­ies dur­ing the hol­i­days.

Hill said they had leads but none of the 10 re­ported bur­glar­ies had been solved.

‘‘We are work­ing on a few things. There have been a few peo­ple iden­ti­fied as peo­ple of in­ter­est,’’ he said.

Halt: Solina Ben­nion-Carl­son, front, brother Loteva Ben­nion-Carl­son and mother Rachel will join forces with the neigh­bour­hood to stop bur­glar­ies hap­pen­ing.

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