Robberies down, vehicle thefts up

The good news is robberies in the area are down 11 per cent over the past 12 months.

The bad news is thefts from vehicles, particularly those on driveways – known as non-dwelling burglaries, are uncomfortably high.

Counties Manukau East Police’s Area Commander Inspector Wendy Spiller told the Times that while robberies were down significantly across the area and the whole of the Counties Manukau District, thefts from vehicles have been increasing year-on-year.

Alarmingly, nearly 40 per cent of burglaries are from vehicles, many of which are unlocked and parked in residential driveways.

“The big fall in robberies is highly reassuring not only for retail businesses but for everybody,” Inspector Spiller said.

“Robberies impact on communities and make people feel unsafe.”

The fall in the incidence of robberies was not down to one single thing, she said.

However she did point to “the great work” by Ethnic Liaison Officers who were “everywhere” educating repeat retail victims like dairies, service stations, fast food outlets and liquor stores.

Stores have been advised to adopt prevention designs like removing cluttering signage and posters from front windows, upgrading CCTV cameras and, for bigger retailers, installing fog cannons.

Retailers were taking real ownership, Inspector Spiller said, and making their shops and staff safe.

Meanwhile the police message about safeguarding vehicles and their contents appeared not to be getting through. “This is nothing new but something the police have reiterated endlessly,” she said.

“We’re complacent about our safety, particularly about our property because we live in a safe area.

“The large increase in non-dwelling burglaries relates to people leaving valuables in cars on their driveways and leaving their vehicles unlocked.”

“We continue to create an environment where offenders gravitate to target because the rewards are good in this location.”

Home-owners could help themselves by clearing the garage and parking the car in there, by removing the garage door opener from any vehicles on the drive, by removing high-value goods from cars and by simply ensuring the cars on the driveway are locked.

Those noticing a spate of break-ins on their street should naturally advise police (the new non-emergency police number 105 was best) and perhaps look to forming a neighbourhood support group.

Suspicious vehicles and people in the area should also be reported (111 if on property and 105 if not).

Police would always try to attend but that was dependent upon how busy officers were. “It depends on operational demand at the time which dictates our response to any particular job,” Inspector Spiller said.

“We need to work together to be the safest community. To do that we need our community support and them to take ownership of their safety and be vigilant.”