1 Sep 2016

Police told woman to check on burglars herself - victim

1:13 pm on 1 September 2016

An Auckland woman whose house was broken into was asked by police to check whether the burglars were still there, she says, and then told no officers could attend.

Burglary, burglar, crime

Photo: 123RF

Amanda Kennedy was returning to her Auckland home after a show when she noticed something was wrong.

"There were all these muddy footprints on my front porch, then I opened the door and went to turn off the alarm, and noticed that all the zones had been activated.

"Then I noticed all the lights were on, and I looked into my room and it was full of stuff everywhere, and I could hear a banging out the back of the house."

She realised burglars were still inside her house, trying to break the door to get out.

"I called the police, and they wanted me to walk around the house, and around the outside of the house and see if I could find them, which I was really uncomfortable doing, to see if they were still there so the police could decide whether or not they'd attend."

By that time the burglars had broken through her back door and escaped, she said.

When she told the police operator, she was informed no one would be attending that night, but someone would come later to scan the place for fingerprints.

Ms Kennedy said had a police officer turned up, the burglars would have been caught.

"The people didn't have a car here, so they were on foot ... they had crowbars and gloves, it wouldn't have been hard to ascertain who they were.

"I think it should have been attended straight away. It wasn't very nice being asked to go through my house to see if I could find some burglars, and then having to sleep here alone."

She and other victims of burglaries want police to turn up on the day.

The national burglary rate has jumped nearly 12 percent in the last year, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand.

This follows an announcement from police they will now aim to attend nearly all home burglaries.

'It's amazing how common it is' - burglary victim

Kohimarama resident Heather Bryant was on holiday over the school break with her family when her home was burgled.

"Our neighbour called us to say that our front door was open. We happened to be in Hamilton at the time, and so my husband and I drove up and left the children at my parent's place.

"As soon as we saw the front door, you could see the damage done, it was sort of left swinging in the wind."

Burglars had rummaged through the house, and stolen jewellery and other small items, including sentimental items from her grandmother.

The police could not respond that night, but sent someone along a few days later.

Ms Bryant said others in her neighbourhood have had similar experiences.

"When I talk to people about this, they go 'oh that happened to me too' and 'oh yeah, we were burgled' and 'oh yeah, I saw someone trying to break into a car the other day'.

"It's amazing how common it is."

She said even though no one in her family was hurt, and it wasn't an assault, the police should have turned up because it was still a frightening ordeal.

"You've been invaded, that's your privacy, that's your home."

"If you can't feel safe in your own home, then where can you feel safe."

Both Ms Bryant and Ms Kennedy have welcomed the promise by police to attend more burglaries.

So too has the chair of community patrols of New Zealand, Chris Lawton.

"The [police] have the resources, and I know at times they're stretched, but it's very good if they do attend because everyone in that household is a victim.

"Having the police attend helps reduce any concerns or fears for the future."

He said patrol groups around the country had reported a high rate of burglaries this year.

It would take a community effort to stamp it out. "The police have a tough role, and it's a matter for community, be it volunteers or neighbourhood support, and also private security assisting as well, all coming together to try and reduce the number of victims and assist the police in the task."

Mr Lawton said the large number of burglaries is likely to be a cyclical phenomena, and could reduce next year.

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