The feeling is one of the most awful a person can have: coming home to see that the house has been disturbed by someone who should not have been there. Not only has it been disturbed, but items have been taken and there is evidence of damage. The sense of violation is completed by the knowledge that the likelihood of seeing the family heirlooms again is next to none.
The unfortunate fact of the matter at the moment in New Zealand is that if one commits burglary, the chances of getting away with it are pretty good. In 2015 59,845 burglaries went unsolved nationwide. My mathematics worked out that this is 163.95 burglaries every 24 hours, or about a burglary every 8 minutes somewhere in New Zealand. By the time this post is finished, 7 or 8 premises and/or private residences in New Zealand will have been burgled.
How depressing. Perhaps more depressing though is the horrendous fact that the burglar/s have a pretty high chance of getting away with it. And in actual fact 24 police stations across New Zealand last year actually did not successfully investigate ANY of the burglaries reported to them. We can argue and people no doubt will about what causes crime, and why people get burgled/burgle. We can draw all the conclusions we want, but at the end of the day one really ugly fact remains: even if it gets reported the chances of the authorities following through with a successful prosecution make people understandably wonder what the point is.
It is not just the simple fact that a crime has been committed that causes so much angst. There is the mental cost. Anyone who has been burgled will tell you about the sense of having their privacy intruded on in the most revolting way, the loss of a sense of security especially if they disturbed the burglar and things turned violent, which there is a very real risk of happening. And there is the social cost too – to householders and businesses and ultimately society at large.
Not everyone can afford or want security measures such as security alarms, or guard dogs. Certainly not everyone will have video surveillance. If it is commercial premises, can the owners or the landlord afford a security guard to do static patrol or routine checks on foot? Not necessarily. And yet, at the same time, in the absence of a police force that has adequate resources and staff to investigate burglaries and prosecute, deterrence is easily the best and most logical way to go.
Neighbourhood watches used to be a strong thing. Signs would exist on streets saying that a neighbourhood watch existed in a particular area, and stickers would be seen in window saying that if the property owner doesn’t ring the police, their neighbours will. Police adverts on television used to promote police activities and security awareness by showing things such as a lady in her garden seeing an intruder on the property and ringing the Police who are shown bundling him into a patrol car. Not any more.
When this is combined with the apparent loss of a sense of responsibility among some parts of society for wrong doing – you do wrong, you own up and if possible correct the wrong – it points to a systemic failure. The failure is not just of politicians to adequately fund and resource the authorities, but also about parents teaching their children right from wrong.
This item took 50 minutes to write. In that time if the 2015 average is still true, 6 or 7 properties will have been burgled in that time. I am not hopeful about any prosecutions following.