Police attending every burglary just a PR exercise

Police have announced they will now aim to attend nearly all of New Zealand’s 35,000 home burglaries a year.

AUT senior criminology lecturer John Buttle said the main reason burglars were caught was because there were witnesses, but burglaries rarely have witnesses and criminals plan not to be seen.

“So the fact that police officers are going to turn up and talk to the people who haven’t seen the burglar, really isn’t going to make a difference to my mind.”

While he said no change to the resolution rate was likely, it was hard to say what would have an impact.

“There’s probably nothing they can do. And I mean if you turn around and look internationally, it’s not just New Zealand police who are useless at catching burglars, it’s pretty much every police force. They all suffer from the same statistic. No matter what they try to do they all suffer from that same statistic; really, really low resolution rates for burglary.”

Mr Buttle said the move was more about public perception.

The question also is: where do these officers come from?  Either they have been terribly inefficient all this time, or they are not doing something else. 

“If nothing else for a victim it provides peace of mind and security and I’ve kind of accepted the fact that I’m never going to get my stuff back and I’m probably never going to get the chance to make a victims statement to these people but the fact that the police have done such an outstanding job, that adds, that’s why we have police.

The Insurance Council has welcomed the move.

“Clearly burglaries add to the cost of claims so any initiative that leads to a reduction in those costs has got to be welcomed,” its CEO Tim Grafton said.

“It’s a significant cost if you’ve got 35,000 burglaries. I don’t know typically what the average cost of a burglary is but if we’re talking a few thousand dollars then definitely we’re talking millions of dollars. But obviously for society and individuals who’ve been burgled, I’ve been burgled, it’s not a very pleasant experience at all and it’s good to see this kind of response coming out.”

The real solution is to lock these leeches up for much longer.  And much sooner.  Once they are caught, they may not be linked to hundreds of burglaries that remain “unsolved”, but the burglary rate in that area drops overnight.

On top of that, we need a Three Strikes rule.  If you’re dense enough to get caught and convicted three times for burglary, you are clearly hard of learning, and the consequent is a serious amount of time inside jail.  Not because you’re that bad or dangerous, but society isn’t willing to put up with your shit any more.


– Tom Furley, RNZ

  • ex-JAFA

    “[W]ill now aim to attend nearly all” – what? You mean they didn’t use to aim to attend? And they still not only won’t attend all, but still won’t even aim to attend all?

    I’m no detective, but I’m pretty sure there’s slim chance of catching and convicting crims if nobody even bothers to investigate the crime. Surely we deserve better than this.

    I know that there’s only so much that a finite number of officers can do, but clearly resources are being wasted on things like revenue-gathering and prosecuting people harming nobody but (at most) themselves instead of making communities safer.

    • Skydog

      With all the coverage regarding burglary isn’t this a prime time for Mr Seymour to highlight an Act party policy that is to make burglary a three strike offence?

      It appears a burglar isn’t often caught so why not hammer them when they are. If we really want to reduce burglary stats, lets put burglars away so they can’t re-offend.

      With crime and policing back in the media, I think Act has one of the best crime and justice policies around. Lets highlight that when it’s a hot topic. Do the Chinese and Indian communities know Act would propose home and shop owners be allowed a weapon for self defence?

  • Brian_Smaller

    If the government enacted a 3S property crime law it would get re-elected. Nobody likes burglars and thieves – the actual criminals that most of us have the misfortune to have intrude in our lives. And it would make it even more obvious who the political crim-huggers are.

    • MarcWills

      If they added DIC offences too, they would be a shoe in for a fourth term.

    • johnandali

      In the military forces, if an offence becomes committed more often than statistics indicate, they can publicise a formal declaration that this particular offence is now regarded as a “prevalent offence”, and as a result the maximum penalties are then doubled.

      If our Government enacted the same system, they wouldn’t have to wait until the third offence to hit the perpetrator hard.

      However, to the best of my knowledge, a judge cannot sentence a crim to a term of imprisonment before checking to see whether a bed is available in their local prison. And now we’re being told that cells are now being fitted with bunks, so that capacities can be doubled.

      But why on earth would the cops spend so much time investigating burglaries? The crims that perpetrate these are usually back on the streets before the paperwork is completed. The problem stems from legal aid being too readily available, weak judges and lack of prison cells. Don’t blame the Police. They’re doing their very best.

  • Builder

    It needs to be a high priority. Burglary is also the main source for guns in criminal hands.

  • Keyser Soze

    Nearly 87% of burglaries in South Auckland ARE attended by Police. Usually by a specialist officer examining for forensics but frontline officers do attend if it urgent… i.e. “Burgs On” then balloon goes up. With this wonderful new initiative the thin blue line just got that little bit thinner.

    3S for burglary will work on two fronts, first it sends the message that burglary will be harshly punished and for the hard of hearing it’ll get them out of hair for a while.

    • JamesP


      In fact knowing what I do, I would much prefer my burglary to be attended by a police SOCO (non-sworn scene of crime officer). The only exception would be if I happened to walk in on the burglar in my house. A SOCO will do a better job because they have specialist forensic training and all they do is investigate burglaries. Frontline police are necessarily generalists and if you are unlucky the officer turning up might be a specialist (youth aid, traffic, etc.) who hasn’t attended a burglary in a long time.

  • twittertit

    “There’s probably nothing they can do. And I mean if you turn around and
    look internationally, it’s not just New Zealand police who are useless
    at catching burglars, it’s pretty much every police force. They all
    suffer from the same statistic. No matter what they try to do they all
    suffer from that same statistic; really, really low resolution rates for

    Well that’s just it isn’t it. I don’t know why everyone is whinging about it then. Yea it sucks you get burgled, but to complain that the cops are useless ignores the facts that catching petty criminals is incredibly difficult when there are no witnesses, no fingerprints and no footage!

    • Korau

      How about the government **gives** us all in home alarms and video systems.

      After all, if we don’t have these we must be below the poverty line.

      Oh, and shouldn’t someone else also pay our insurance costs too.

  • JEL51

    Well what was the use interviewing that Academic? Straight out with… “it is just a PR exercise”, has no idea how to solve the issue but finishes up with… “I have been burgled, it is not very pleasant at all…”
    For a start, it is an excellent piece of PR work because if we heard about it, then they, the culprits, would have heard too. That in itself must have many reconsidering their actions.
    Secondly, it will not take long for police to build up a picture of where & who are doing which areas.
    I would think police cars just passing through residential areas in itself, would be a novelty.
    All we need now is a slight adjustment in the law to back them up.
    Um, I dunno, like..
    ………”You do stuff more than twice, what ever your age, straight off to lock-up on the third time. The only Family Conference will be when you have done your time. If your family is not capable of ensuring you stay on the right side of the law, then off to boarding school type boot camp”

  • Brian Anderson

    I was told by a member of the police force about 10 years ago that the greater number of burglaries are drug related. Living at the time in a good residential area but not very far from a gang headquarters, break-ins were not rare in our street.
    The police explanation was that many were opportunistic where a few high value and easily portable articles would be taken and exchanged – probably within minutes – at the gang headquarters for drugs (at possibly a tenth of the article’s value).
    In my case, the criminal was caught and turned out to be a sickness beneficiary – what sickness he was benefitting from wasn’t stated -(drug addiction?) who was on bail waiting sentencing for 38 burglaries.
    As the officer said, ;He knows perfectly well a few more while on bail won’t make any difference to his sentence.’
    There was court-ordered reparation. I got two payments and they stopped. Since he was a beneficiary, they were supposed to be deducted at source. Enquiries elicited the reply, ‘He’s probably just drawing his benefit under a different name.’
    In my opinion, the whole system is stuffed and the criminals know it.

  • Jimmie

    I think Mr Buttle is not understanding a few things.

    1 Cops love catching burglars. Beats attending drunken domestics any day of the week. It is in the old tradition of cops and robbers etc.

    2 Feet on the ground achieve several aims:

    – Allows victims to feel reassured that they are being taken seriously.
    – Poking around can allow cops to locate evidence/finger prints and talk to neighbours etc.

    3 The biggest point is numbers. Numbers of Police as a ratio of population have fallen over the last few years (along with a relatively frozen operating budget) and no matter how fancy cell phone technology is it still doesn’t beat having 2 legged Plods poking around in their communities to uncover/deter crime.

    Some of the problem arises from the ladder phenomenon.

    Street cops at the bottom of the ladder come up with all sorts of ideas to deal with crime and are well aware that service often falls short of ideal levels due to lack of staff.

    Those half way up the ladder often turn a blind eye as if they say something that goes against the prevailing wisdom from the biggest cheese their chances of advancing further up the ladder are minimized.

    The one thing that Police respond to very fast is bad publicity. Bad press makes very senior mice scurry around in a panic looking for a solution/any solution to make it go away.

    (So I have been told anyway)

  • John

    I used to believe that, despite my disagreeing with ongoing government’s laissez-faire approach to crime, that it was somehow based on good science. Then I got real education which talked about nasty experiments on dogs that would now be prohibited now but showed that incremental punishment conditioned criminals so by the time they went from family conference to jail, they were totally conditioned to the idea. After all, there first stay in prison would only be a few weeks and next time they will be an old hand.

    Add to this an environment of the last few weeks where the government has admited that it is grossly understaffed, and our fist generation without corporal punishment are just at the genisis of an explosion in lawlessness.

    It will be interesting to see if newer immigrants do uphold their threat to uphold the law themselves and what follows.