Dunedin police are warning about a ''spike'' in burglaries of
vacant student properties after a landlord disturbed an
intruder in a Castle St flat on Saturday.
Dunedin policeman Sergeant Dave Scott said a landlord
disturbed an apparent burglar at 8.48am when he entered a
vacant flat in Castle St to do some work.
The intruder had run away. Police put a cordon in place and
searched unsuccessfully using a police dog but were following
a positive lead in their inquiries, he said.
The Dunedin North area, including many student flats, was
known to be targeted by criminals, so police and Campus Watch
also targeted the area with regular patrols, even when most
students were away.
Dunedin police community relations co-ordinator Sergeant Matt
Scoles said burglaries of property left in vacant student
flats ''spiked'' at this time of year.
However, in the past three years police had educated students
on the risks of burglaries, which had resulted in ''a
significant decrease'' in reported burglaries.
The education of students by police began at the start of the
academic year and included crime prevention visits, pamphlet
drops and giving out invisible marking pens for labelling
The education, in conjunction with Campus Watch and
continued for most of the year, he said.
People living near student flats should remain ''vigilant''
for any suspicious activity, he said.
Otago Property Investors' Association president Wendy Bowman
said landlords should make sure vacant student properties
were ''super secure'' by checking doors and windows were
locked. Students should ensure valuable property stored in
vacant flats was ''hidden'' to deter potential burglars, she
''If people see valuables in there, it's more tempting than
if they can see nothing.''