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May 23, 2011 | by  | in News |
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That awkward moment (when your visitor is robbing you)

Living with seven other people means Tess Novak often doesn’t know who to expect when she returns to her Kelburn flat.

In fact, when the Victoria University student returned home last week to find someone she had not met, she introduced herself and shook his hand.

What Miss Novak did not know was that the man was a burglar who had been interrupted while gutting the flat of its technology and jewellery.

The man, who introduced himself as Damien, told her he was waiting for a flatmate who had gone out for 15 minutes.

When she entered her room she noticed her laptop was missing.

She asked the man who he was waiting for before noticing her flatmate’s satchel sitting nearby.

“When I flipped open the bag there was three of our laptops in there.”

Miss Novak said her fear for her safety quickly turned into figuring out a way to get their stuff back and get the man out of the house.

“I just started yelling at him and he kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’.

“I probably just sounded like a school teacher.”

As she hustled the man out of her flat, he told her that this was the only way he could feed his children.

“He kept saying all this stuff trying to make me feel bad which was ridiculous.”

Despite Miss Novak’s efforts, the burglar got away with a digital camera and numerous pieces of jewellery, including old family pieces.

“It was really horrible because they were sentimental pieces.”

Miss Novak’s story is similar to thousands of other burglaries that occur in the Wellington district each year, according to Senior Sergeant Martin Brown of the Auckland police.

“March to May is generally a high-risk period for dwelling burglary in the central city.”

Statistics from the New Zealand police website show that 4687 burglaries occurred in Wellington last year, with 3232 connected to dwellings.

However, Sergeant Brown says that residential burglaries have been slowly dropping and so far year they are down 11.2 per cent on the past three years.

Sergeant Brown says that there are a number of ways people can protect themselves from burglars without spending money on expensive security systems, including ensuring doors and windows are locked and hiding valuables from exterior vision.

He also says it is a good idea to become familiar with your neighbours and “let them know it’s okay to challenge anyone suspicious, as some people tend to not want to interfere”.

He says that if a person is confronted by a burglar, as in Miss Novak’s situation, they have the right to perform a citizen’s arrest or restrain them, assuming they feel confident.

“If it’s not safe to restrain them, follow them if you can and update police on where they are and what they look like.”

If they do not feel confident enough, he says they should try and think outside the box.

“Grab your cell phone and take a photo if you can, make some noise and get the attention of neighbours or call 111 without spooking the burglar.”

Miss Novak said since the incident, her flat have been extra vigilant in ensuring their house and rooms are locked, “even when we’re in the house”.

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Comments (6)

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  1. CY says:

    Oh my…

  2. Julia Hunt-McNeur says:

    Great article Jeremy!

  3. T.J Peterson says:

    great article

  4. Pippa Wright says:

    Great work Tess. :0

  5. Priscilla says:

    not too sure about the “school-teacher” comment Tess!!

  6. Diandra says:

    I really couldn’t ask for more from this atrlcie.

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