‘First break-in of the season’: Burglary puts woman off student quarter

University of Otago student Beth Anderson's flat was broken into at the weekend. Photo: NZ Herald
University of Otago student Beth Anderson's flat was broken into at the weekend. Photo: NZ Herald
A University of Otago student whose flat was broken into at the weekend says she will not be living in the student quarter next year.

College of Education student Beth Anderson said $2000-$3000 worth of her items were stolen when her Queen St flat was broken into at the weekend.

In her third year, this is the second time her flat had been entered by a stranger.

In her second-year flat on Clyde St, she was preparing for work when a man peeked out from behind her bedroom door frame.

She screamed at the older man, who appeared drunk, and he promptly left - though he thanked her “for letting me sleep on your couch”.

She said she was shocked by the incident, and reported it to Police and Campus Watch - though nothing came of it.

On Saturday evening, a stranger punched through a glass door of her flat, and unlocked it from the inside.

Though at work at the time, Anderson was the only flatmate of seven to still be living at the property, as the others had left for holidays.

Around the time the burglary occurred, the parents of one of her flatmates were staying at a neighbouring unit to the flat.

Anderson said the parents were returning to the unit around 6pm that day when they noticed a man sitting on a chair below the units staircase and holding a hairbrush.

This was the second time a stranger had entered Beth Anderson's flat in two years, she said....
This was the second time a stranger had entered Beth Anderson's flat in two years, she said. Photo: NZ Herald
They asked him what he was doing, and he told them he was homeless and looking for shelter.

The parents then called Anderson to inform her there was someone hanging around her flat.

“At this point, they didn’t know that someone had smashed the window, or that it was my hairbrush,” said Anderson.

She said they described the man as mid to late 20s with dark skin, and wearing grey track pants and a maroon shirt.

After Anderson finished her shift at 8pm, she returned home to find the back glass door had been smashed and unlocked from the inside.

There were blood splatters on the glass and wooden frame.

She said the burglar then walked through the house and entered her room, where he stole Christmas presents, perfumes, alcohol, hair straighteners, and sentimental items like baby photos and jewellery, much of which was gifted to Anderson at her 21st birthday two weeks prior.

“It’s just really frustrating, because I work four jobs so I don’t need help to afford my things, and then they’re just stolen.

“I work because I like to keep busy and to be financially stable on my own without help - having nice things is a bonus and a reward to my hard work.”

She estimated the total cost of the items to be around $2000 to $3000 and she did not have contents insurance.

Anderson spoke with police at the scene that evening, saying one noted the incident was “the first break-in of the season,” she said.

“It just feels disgusting that someone has gone through all my stuff. It doesn’t feel real... But I also think, luckily I wasn’t here at the time, and that I am actually okay.”

She said she had spoken to neighbours, who had also noticed a strange man lurking in the area.

She also recalled earlier that week, while home alone, hearing a recycling bin at the front door of the property being opened.

Beneath the flat, a storage area had also been opened where it appeared an overturned glass recycling bin had been used as a seat, and was surrounded by used band-aids, Panadol packets, and a snap lock bag, said Anderson.

“I think especially in these areas at the end of the year, they’re quite targeted,” she said.

She said she was concerned about the security of student accommodations, and suggested landlords should be more proactive in securing flats, recommending the installation of security cameras and secure locks on windows and doors.

For her fourth year of study in 2024, she said she would be looking to rent in the suburbs as the student area no longer felt safe.

She said she hoped the person who stole her things had a good Christmas - “because I still will, even though I don’t have my stuff.”

Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond said the incident was being investigated.