Tourists warned of rise in thefts

Travel advisories have been issued in Europe that theft is on the rise in New Zealand, as more visitors tell of holidays ruined by criminals targeting campervans.

But the victims and their embassies say they will continue to recommend New Zealand as generally safe.

Several European visitors have told of break-ins and thefts of their cars and campervans while touring the country.

Police said its statistics did not capture thefts from campervans and tourists, and issued a statement: "We do encourage visitors to New Zealand to take some simple crime prevention steps to minimise the opportunities for theft. These messages are also carried on our police website."

Tourism New Zealand said it advised visitors to take the same precautions as they would in their home country.

"Unfortunately, crimes involving travellers can occur and do happen around the world," a spokesman said.

A travel advisory on the French Foreign Affairs website says the level of common crime remains low in New Zealand but precautions should be taken.

"Thefts from vehicles [especially motor homes and "campervans"] are increasing across the whole territory.

It is therefore strongly recommended not to leave personal belongings [money, passports, documents ...] in an unattended vehicle," it says.

The German equivalent also notes an increase in car theft, "particularly in places frequented by tourists".

French ambassador Francis Etienne said visitors were usually more troubled by the weather while tramping than by crime.

But they could let their guard down too far by thinking New Zealand was safe and peaceful, he said.

"It's our role to remind people," he said. "We don't want to spoil the pleasure but you have to take the necessary steps to protect your security.

"We want more French to come and enjoy New Zealand ... We don't see New Zealand as a dangerous place."


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