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Group makes its mark on thefts

By ROMY UDANGA, Manukau Courier

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A community group is making "hot property" less attractive to burglars and thieves.

Manurewa Neighbourhood Support is lending engraving tools to the public for free so they can carve identifiable marks on their valuables.

Coordinator Naomi McFarlane says the group’s also giving out warning stickers that say "Property in this house has been marked for police identification" to those who engrave their valuables.

"Displaying the stickers prominently on windows helps reduce the risk of burglary because criminals know they are more likely to be caught or traced if they handle and attempt to sell identifiable properties," she says.

The most attractive items to burglars and thieves are those that are small, valuable, easily taken and concealed, and easily disposed of because they’re popular and sought after, Ms McFarlane says.

They include jewellery, tools, CD and DVD players, iPods, MP3 players, mobile phones, laptops, game consoles and digital and video cameras.

Police recover thousands of dollars worth of stolen property every year but can’t return it because the owners did not record serial numbers or mark the property so it could be identified as belonging to them.

"Even worse, some unmarked property might have to be left with the thief," she says.

The best mark to engrave on an item is its serial number or the owner’s driver’s licence number because these are more permanent, she says.

Manurewa Neighbourhood Support has 20 engravers bought with a grant from the Manurewa Community Board.

Anyone wanting to borrow a unit can call 261-5730 and leave their name and contact details.

Ms McFarlane is also encouraging the public to join Neighbourhood Support groups and help prevent crime in their communities.

"In 2008, only 7 percent of all burglaries happened in areas where there is a Neighbourhood Support group.

"The bulk – or 93 percent – were in areas outside of Neighbourhood Support groups.

"We’d like to think our proactive members looking after their community and reporting suspicious persons to police deter crime.

"Criminals take off when they know someone has spotted them."

Manurewa has about 2700 Neighbourhood Support members in about 200 groups, each with four to 30 members.


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