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.