Burglaries prompt safety warnings

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Elderly Oamaru residents have been hit hard in a recent spike in burglaries and local authorities are urging people to secure their homes as a result.
This comes after a 73-year-old man had his unit broken into at the Douglas Flats on Reed St on Monday night.
Oamaru police senior sergeant Jason McCoy said there had been a spike in burglaries around the Reed St area recently and a high percentage of the victims appeared to be elderly.
It was possible it was the same group of people involved in these burglaries, he said.
He urged anybody to report suspicious behaviour to the police immediately and for people to make sure their properties were secure.
The tenant, John Gent, said he woke up about 11pm on Monday night to see someone standing beside his bed.
“I just told them to f*** off.”
He was not scared, as they left straight away and what had been taken was recovered, but these things should not happen, he said.
Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer said there had been several incidents over the past few months, with the burglars allegedly climbing in through windows at night.
He did not want people living in fear but said it was scary for older people. Mr Gent had recently had open heart surgery and it could be dangerous to wake up in a fright, Mr Stringer said.
Waitaki District Council property officer Renee Fisher-Hewitt said they were assessing the security at all the Community Housing units and were looking at putting latches on the windows so they could not open completely.This had already been done at Mr Gent’s home yesterday morning, she said.Police ask people to report suspicious behaviour by calling 433 1400. For support and advice, people can also phone Age Concern Waitaki on 434 7008.

By RUBY HARFIELD