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Innovative Tactics Sees 88% Drop In Burglaries In Hamilton

Innovative Tactics Sees 88% Drop In Burglaries In Hamilton Hot Spot

Putting words into action is the driver behind a whole of policing approach that has seen an 88 percent drop in residential burglaries in one of Hamilton's most vulnerable areas.

City Tactical Coordinator, Senior Sergeant Freda Grace, said over the past two months there has been a serious spike in the number of burglaries in the Waikato with 99 over the weekend following ANZAC Day alone, 78 of those in Hamilton.

"The following weekend this figure dropped to 33 as Police looked at what we could do to prevent these crimes from happening and where the worst effected areas were.

"One area that stood is the triangle made up of Cameron, Old Farm and Knighton Roads around the University of Waikato which, because of its high level of transient renters, is a particularly vulnerable and attractive target for burglars."

Ms Grace said this vulnerability is primarily related to students sharing flats moving on and a complacent attitude to security with victims often having no knowledge as to who may have keys or access to their flats.

"Rental occupancy is as high as 98 per cent on some streets in the area. When you consider each student comes to Hamilton with a laptop computer, a sound system, i-Pod, i-Pad and other easily transferable electronics then its little wonder they fall prey to predators in the night.

"In other parts of the City residents are in an area for longer periods, they build relationships with their neighbours and develop a sense of community, unfortunately in this particular area residents aren't there long enough for some basic community fabrics to be formed."

With the commencement of the university term and students returning to their flats Police noticed a corresponding increase in the number of burglaries and reported break-ins of cars.

"There were 24 residential burglaries reported in this small area alone in April so what we needed to do is look at ways to address this and so far the signs are the new tactics have worked pretty well.

"What we've done is approached the problem with a whole of policing solution, assigning a variety of policing resources that are available to tackle issues under the 'One Waikato' policing strategy."

And that approach has met with considerable success with an 88 per cent reduction in burglaries in the area up to 21 May.

"What we've been doing is saturating the vulnerable area with a mixture of high visibility patrols at night coupled with Community staff doing follow up visits and crime prevention messages during the day complementing less visible foot and vehicle patrols by covert staff during peak problem times.

"Intelligence plays a large part in ensuring we have the right people in the right place at the right time and our analysis shows us the most vulnerable time for burglaries to occur in this area is over the weekend (60 percent) with the most common time being between 11pm Saturday and 2am Sunday."

Ms Grace said while Police are adapting their tactics to not only catch burglars but prevent crime from happening in the first place, the public can play a part as well.

"While there was a spike in residential burglaries in April there was also an increase in the number of offenders being apprehended and this was in a large part due to the timely reporting of suspicious behaviour of teenagers by neighbours who noticed something amiss.

"The timely relaying of details such as persons or vehicle descriptions and registration numbers plays a vital part in catching offenders and the key message here is if you see something- do something and that is ring 111."

Another key tactic in preventing your home becoming a target is by making your valuables harder for the offender to on-sell.

"Owners are recommended to mark their valuables with synthetic DNA which puts readable microdots on your property Police can detect using UV light.

"Another is to photograph and register your possessions with Operation SNAP (www.snap.org.nz), an online asset list that allows you to record your valuables and then provide their details to Police if you become a victim of Crime. Using these two options narrows the market where offenders can go to sell stolen goods."

Security cameras, alarms and joining Neighbourhood Support Groups are also recommended but the one thing Police really want is information, as fast and as accurate as possible via 111.

"And if you don't want to speak to us directly you can still leave information anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, the key thing is if you know something- tell us."


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