It’s that time of year when many residents leave the Wakatipu for a holiday – but it’s also a time when burglars get busy.
The last thing anyone wants to come back to after a well-earned break is a ransacked house.
But Queenstown police warn that New Year traditionally brings a spike in domestic break-ins and opportunistic thefts.
“There are more burglaries in the Wakatipu in December and January than at any other time of the year,” local constable Sean Drader says.
“For example, in recent weeks there have been a few on Queenstown Hill and we usually expect to deal with about a dozen or so incidents of this nature in the resort during the holiday period.”
And it’s not just local criminals who pinpoint empty homes over summer – thieves often travel here to help themselves.
“Burglars go on holiday too and some of them come to Queenstown from other areas because they think there might be rich pickings,” Drader says.
“Unfortunately, some of these characters see the Wakatipu as a soft target as a lot of homes are secluded and some residents not quite as security-conscious as they might be elsewhere.
“It’s not unusual to have criminals arrive from out of town who think they can fund a nice holiday in Queenstown by stealing from other people’s homes and cars, and it’s very distressing for the victims when they return to find this has happened.”
Drader urges people to stop and think for a moment about security before setting off on a trip.
Here he offers some sound do’s and don’ts …
Get to know your neighbours.
The people most likely to notice what’s going on at your place are those who live nearby.
Let them know if you are going away and ask them to keep an eye on the property.
Ask someone to regularly collect your mail. It might seem like a pretty basic precaution but an overflowing mailbox is a sure sign for any would-be burglars that no one is at home.
- Tidy up the garden and yard before going away.
Simple things like mowing the lawn and weeding before leaving creates an impression that someone might be around and that could just be enough to make a thief move on to some other target.
- If your property is a bit secluded, it’s a good idea to think about investing in a proper burglar alarm.
A lot of people in Queenstown think they don’t need one but it’s a pretty tried and tested deterrent, as well as alerting people if someone does try to gain entry.
- If you have a garage, park your car in it before leaving.
Thieves can notice if a vehicle left on the street or driveway hasn’t been moved for a while.
Why offer them an extra clue that you might be away on holiday?
- Get into the habit of locking all the doors and windows.
It might seem blindingly obvious but it’s surprising how many people in the Wakatipu forget to do this, or simply leave their property unlocked so someone looking after the place can get access instead of just giving them a key.
- Don’t leave kids’ bikes, skateboards and other toys lying around outside.
Thieves clock that these haven’t been shifted and can indicate the place is more than likely empty.
- Make sure any fences surrounding your home aren’t so high that no one can see what’s going on behind them. Everyone likes privacy but large fences can often actually shield the activities of anyone breaking into a property.