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Who burgles a house and why?

An understanding of how a burglar thinks and operates could help you take the necessary steps to prevent your home from being targeted.

To help protect your property and possessions from the risk of burglary, New Zealand Police and Neighbourhood Support New Zealand have developed the following information about who burgles a house and why.

Who am I?

  • I can be male or female and I take advantage of easy targets or tempting opportunities
  • I burgle houses day and night - especially when I can see no one's home or the risk of being seen or caught is low
  • I may operate alone or with other people
  • I may be on foot or could use a vehicle to check out your neighbourhood
  • I often burgle one or more nearby houses in the neighbourhood
  • I generally don't stray too far from my home. I like familiar territory
  • I won't burgle too close to home in case someone recognises me
  • I may look out of place in your neighbourhood, but few people take note of my car licence plate or ring the Police to report suspicious activity

Why do I pick your place?

  • I like houses where it looks like no one's home - lights aren't on at night, curtains may be closed during the day, or mail and newspapers have been left to accumulate in the letterbox
  • I like houses where a window or door is left open or unsecured
  • I like houses where people can't see what I'm doing from the street, where trees and shrubs may block the view
  • I like houses that have alleyways running beside them or back onto parks, reserves or green belts
  • I like houses where items of value are left outside overnight, like a bike
  • I like houses where the garage door is open, I can see your car isn't there and there's something valuable inside, like a lawnmower
  • I like houses I've been to before. I know the layout, what's in them and how to get out.
  • If I've burgled a house once, it's likely I'll try it again when valuable items have been replaced

How do I operate?

  • I'm usually looking for cash or small, valuable items I can quickly convert into cash such as jewellery, electronic and portable digital equipment
  • Often I'm stealing to order and may have a car nearby to help with my 'get away'
  • I usually sell stolen property to people who like to buy things cheaply without asking questions
  • I may go onto a property and knock on the door to see if anyone is home
  • If someone is home, I normally make up an excuse for being there. For example, "I'm looking for my dog or a nearby street or is so and so in?"
  • I may try to make you leave me on my own at your open front door by making a request such as to use a phone book you go and get
  • I try to get in and out of your home as quickly and quietly as possible
  • Sometimes I hide your property nearby and come and get it later

What don't I like?

  • Houses with alarms
  • Houses with security lighting
  • Neighbours who support each other, talk to each other and take an interest in what's going on around them, particularly people they don't know or haven't seen before
  • Neighbours who report suspicious activity to Police and are able to give good descriptions of who and what they've seen
  • Dogs or guard dog signs on fences and gates
  • Houses with good locks on doors, windows and other entry points
  • A vehicle in the driveway
  • Lights on or TV or radio left on
  • People who take the time to mark valuable property with identification details and keep a written description or photographic record in a safe place for future reference
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