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Beware the snooping man

Howick and Pakuranga Times
13 April 2009

RESIDENTS are advised to be on the lookout for neighbours, as a “foreign looking man” has been “lurking” around Sandspit and Paparoa Roads recently.

Local resident and Neighbourhood Support member Marijke Ponse told the Times a “well dressed foreign looking man” was circulating in her suburb approaching houses asking for “Christina”. “He looked like he could have been a little bit Italian. He looked European and had a little moustache.”

She says the man approached a few houses, one in particular at about 11.45am. The same home on Bledisloe Street was then broken into between lunchtime and 6pm.

At this stage there is no proof the two incidents are connected, although police say it’s likely.

“With these sorts of the things, the chances are they are related,” says Kylie Newton, acting senior sergeant at Howick Police.

The burglary has been reported to police and the scene assessed by crime scene attendants.

“If you’re at all suspicious, make it obvious to the person that you’ve noticed them. Let them know you are aware of their presence.”

Mr Newton says the public is often more trusting of people “in suits and those wearing fluorescent vests”. Howick police sergeant Keith Olsen says: “We’re often asked ‘what is the typical description of a burglar?’ There isn’t one. Burglars aren’t all scruffy looking hoody wearing people.”

Mr Olsen says individuals need to use their own judgement on a case-by-case basis, whether to call 111, alert other neighbours immediately or both.

Mrs Ponse sent a newsletter around her community on the evening of the burglary, warning other residents of the man’s unusual behaviour. She was told by another neighbour the man “stood on top of a car trying to look over the fence and into the property”.

“I just thought people should be aware of someone asking for Christina or any other fictitious name,” says Mrs Ponse.

Howick Police commends Neighbourhood Support groups and says “the more eyes watching out for your property the better”.

“We love vigilant neighbours. It’s often those neighbours who ask ‘who is that person; what is that person doing there’ and alert either the police or their community,” says Mr Olsen. He says all too often after a burglary has occurred, police officers visiting the scene speak to neighbours who tell them: “I did see that person but didn’t do anything at the time”.

Mr Olsen encourages people to do something without delay if at all suspicious about someone in their neighbourhood. Police advise those travelling during holiday periods to take the necessary pre-cautionary steps to protect properties. “Make sure sensor lights are working, keep your mailbox clear, ask neighbours to watch your house and make sure valuables are out of sight,” says Mr Olsen.


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