That's some cheek
By Hayley Hannan
Sue* is about to go to bed when she hears her garage door open. She wonders what's going on but figures her son Geoff, who lives downstairs in the garage, is just moving round. Downstairs, Geoff thinks the noises are from his parents. He gets up to check the lounge and sees two shadows disappearing outside. They have been robbed while they're at home.
Sue's husband Wayne says this is the first time in 25 years the family's been robbed and the incident has unsettled them.
"We're like cats on hot bricks at the moment. It's hard to explain because you know they've been here. But they'd have to be bloody brave if they had been caught," he laughs. Geoff has a black belt in martial arts.
On that Thursday night earlier this month, burglars broke into Geoff's unalarmed Nissan parked in the drive. After opening the garage door with a remote they found in the car, the thieves took a laptop, computer games, two iPods, an extra controller and earpiece, Playstation 2, a watch and a wallet.
Wayne says the robbers ignored his credit card in the kitchen and the passport in the stolen car.
"The police said it was a ready market.
[The robbers] knew what they wanted - it's only carry items."
Geoff says the robbery is upsetting and frustrating. "We are just another South Auckland couple. We are struggling as much as anyone else - getting burgled doesn't help. It's just a real struggle."
Police responded quickly to the family's calls, says Wayne, and seven officers have been to their house since the robbery.
Grey Lynn resident Grant Sutherland is also amazed at how gutsy robbers were after his house was robbed one morning in May. "A couple of [our neighbours] were in the flat that day at the time. I couldn't believe they were quite so ballsy [as] to break in while they were home.
"[In the daytime] it's quite open. If it was around 8 o'clock there are quite a few people walking in the street."
He says robbers climbed in his kitchen window and took jewellery and computer equipment before the householders' dog confronted them.
"There aren't many burglaries in the area. We filed a police report, got the window repaired and that was that."
Counties Manukau police spokesman Michael Woods says what is stolen depends on who the burglars are. "If it's young people, then they tend to take things easily removed. If they're more serious then they go for the big items."
The acting area commander for the west of the district says intruders entering a house while people are home is uncommon.
"It's very unusual to have a burglar when the owners of the home are actually home."
Mr Woods says burglaries are decreasing in his area overall, as a result of police working in the area. Police statistics show reported burglaries have dropped by 197 reported cases over the past financial year in the Counties Manukau area.
There are many things you can do to protect yourself from burglars, says police spokesman Michael Woods. To begin with, make sure you have strong security: locks on doors, alarm systems. Then mark all your expensive items. Take down serial numbers of electronics, take photos of items - jewellery in particular. It's also wise to join or set up a Neighbourhood Support group, he says.