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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 property.
The education, in conjunction with Campus Watch and Neighbourhood Support,
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 said.
''If people see valuables in there, it's more tempting than if they can see nothing.''