Wave of thefts enabled by lack of security in Hamilton

RESIDENTS have been blasted for not securing their property after a series of thefts in Hamilton, highlighted by firearms now being out on the street, police say.

Detective Sergeant Mark James, of the Hamilton police crime investigation unit, said that in the past month there had been nine thefts from vehicles, seven burglaries and eight other thefts.

He said poor security was enabling opportunistic thefts to be committed.

Detective Sergeant James said vehicles, sheds and garages were routinely being left unlocked in Hamilton.

"A gun theft occurred at the weekend which involved a property unfortunately not being as secure as it should have been," he said.

"A garage was left open which led to a gun safe being broken into. Soon after the firearms were taken a gun was fired.

"This is at the extreme end of the consequences, but it's very real, it happened. Imagine the worst case scenario now and it's not pretty."

The investigator said it was frustrating to  be called to preventable crimes.

"If cars were locked these people would go and do something else," he said.

"We constantly try and give advice to prevent crime but people are fueling it by being slack about personal security. Lock your house, your, shed, your garage, your vehicle - we say it until we're blue in the face."

Detective Sergeant James said crime was an unfortunate part of life.

"We are sick of saying it. Everybody listens, says 'that's terrible' and then leave their car unlocked,” he said.

"We enjoy a low crime but much of what’s happening is  preventable by what we refer to as target hardening.

"That means forcing offenders to take more of a risk to get the same result. Making an offender take that extra step is far more likely to involve leaving behind forensic evidence."

Detective Sergeant James said having to smash a window took offending to a completely different criminal level.

"That creates noise, dogs bark, people notice, it's a heightened risk," he said.

"The end result of this current trend  is that we're now chasing around after firearms.

"That gives us a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. It's a big worry for us. We're the ones going into the homes looking for the guns. It's a massive risk for us.”