Young burglars rife
8 Dec 2008
By MATTHEW MARTIN
Everyone's busy doing their Christmas shopping, including thieves - and Rotorua residents are making it too easy for them.
There has been a spike in burglaries with 31 committed in a week. A staggering 15 of them happened at houses where doors and windows were left open or unlocked.
The rise in burglaries has prompted a strong warning from Rotorua police as we head into the festive season.
The warning comes as Rotorua police deal with two 11-year-olds who are thought to be responsible for a swag of 16 burglaries, mainly in the city's Western Heights area.
Inspector Greg Sparrow said people needed to spend five minutes to secure their homes before going out - or risk a less-than-merry Christmas getting burgled by opportunistic thieves.
He said the recent rash of burglaries occurred throughout Rotorua, in both rural and urban areas and mainly in streets without an active Neighbourhood Support group.
"Scene of crime officers have told me about half of those people burgled had not bothered to lock their windows and doors."
Mr Sparrow said a lot of burglars now were opportunistic young people aged anywhere between 9 and 16.
"Your burglar is not 20 to 25 years of age carrying a big sack over their shoulder.
"They are young people roaming the streets, not in school and out committing offences."
Last weekend The Daily Post revealed that Rotorua police were dealing with two 11-year-old children for burglaries in Western Heights.
One victim told The Daily Post she had resorted to taking all her food to work each day because the child burglars kept breaking into her home. Mr Sparrow said the children had committed about 16 burglaries.
"The parents of these children either don't know or don't care about where they are and what they are doing. They are walking around looking for places they can easily get into," he said.
The two children were reportedly knocking on doors during school hours, telling people they were looking for a lost dog. They were caught after a vigilant home owner called the police.
Mr Sparrow said Rotorua police dealt with between 20 and 25 burglaries a week - a lot less than in previous years. Four or five years ago it was not unusual for police to be dealing with 40-60 burglaries a week.
Residential burglaries were mostly happening during the day with target items being food and small electronic items, he said.
"Parents need to take some time to spend with their kids. Find out who they are hanging out with and take some responsibility."
Rotorua Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Barrie Fenton said the initiative to start a group must come from the people themselves. People who wanted to form a group should talk to their closest neighbours and see how they felt about it, then contact Neighbourhood Support.
"If you see something suspicious, do something about it. Don't give them the opportunity, because they will take it," Mr Fenton said.
Contact Neighbourhood Support by calling (07) 349 9470, emailing email@example.com or visiting the police station.