Eight stolen firearms recovered

The police were embarrassed when 11 firearms that had been surrendered were stolen in a burglary of the Palmerston North police station. Not surprisingly they have worked hard to locate the stolen weapons. They have now recovered 8 of them.

Two days ago:- Police hunt for man who stole 11 firearms from Palmerston North police station

Police are urgently seeking a 38-year-old man after weapons – some handed in for destruction – were stolen from the Palmerston North police station.

Acting Central District Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said police were embarrassed about the theft, and it shouldn’t have happened.

She said the police would do everything they can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Ms Stewart said people should still have faith in the ability of police to keep recently banned firearms safely secured during the gun amnesty period.

Police are looking for Alan James Harris in relation to the burglary. He was known to police through previous dealings with him, she said.

Police and Armed Offenders Squad staff have searched Palmerston North properties over the past 24 hours as part of the ongoing investigation.

The burglary occurred early on Thursday morning. Police say a member of staff disturbed a person in the yard area of the police station around 7.40am. They say he left the scene in a vehicle, which police have since recovered along with another vehicle linked to the same person.

Commissioner Mike Bush has directed an investigation be conducted into how an offender was able to gain access to the police station, as well as an immediate audit on security around firearms at all stations nationwide.

Yesterday: Alan James Harris arrested

Police have arrested Alan James Harris who was being sought following a burglary at the Palmerston North police station on Thursday morning.

Harris was arrested without incident in Palmerston North in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He was identified by a member of the public in the central city and Police were immediately notified.


Eight stolen firearms recovered in Palmerston North

Eight firearms have been recovered by police following a burglary at the Palmerston North police station on Thursday 25 April.

The eight firearms were recovered in Palmerston North earlier today as part of the ongoing investigation into the burglary.

Locating the three remaining firearms which are still unaccounted for continues to be a high priority for Central District police.

Of the 11 firearms taken in the burglary, one was unlawful under the new Government legislation. This weapon is among the eight which have been recovered today.

The remaining firearms were older guns and a BB gun which were not covered under the new legislation but were awaiting destruction, or were being held as exhibits.

Acting Central District Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart says police are very focused on securing the remaining three firearms.

“We continue to appeal for anyone with information to contact us.  You can speak to Palmerston North police directly on 0800 351 3600 or you can provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

“The investigation team has worked tirelessly throughout the weekend and they will continue to do so,” says Ms Stewart.

A 38-year-old man appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday charged with burglary and was remanded in custody until 21 May.

A dumb crime to commit unless he wanted to be caught.


Academic researching China burgled

There may be a couple of coincidences here, but this does deserve some scrutiny.

NZ Herald:  NZ academic who made headlines researching China’s influence links break-ins to her work

A New Zealand academic who made international waves researching China’s international influence campaigns has linked a number of recent break-ins to her work.

University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady, speaking today from Christchurch to the Australian Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee in Canberra, outlined three recent events which caused her concern.

“I had a break-in in my office last December. I received a warning letter, this week, that I was about to attacked. And yesterday I had a break-in at my house,” she said.

She said this weeks’ burglary at her Upper Riccarton home was particularly suspicious.

“I had three laptops – including one used for work – stolen. And phones. [Other] valuables weren’t taken. Police are now investigating that.”

Brady also said her employer at Canterbury University had been pressured following earlier work on China’s Antarctic policy and – following a recent visit to China – sources she had talked to were subjected to visits from authorities.

“People I’ve associated with in China, just last year, were questioned by the Chinese Ministry of State Security about their association with me.”

Her outspokenness became extremely public after she published in September a “Magic Weapons” paper using New Zealand as a case study in explaining China’s extra-state exertion of influence.

It looks like real cause for concern.

Contacted for comment, the police, citing complaint privacy, declined to answer questions about Brady’s break-ins.

Questions to the Security Intelligence Service were met with a statement from director Rebecca Kitteridge, who said: “I cannot comment on individual cases”.

Standard responses in the circumstances, but I hope they are having a good look at who might have been behind the thefts.

3 strikes, 3 years for burglary?

Burglaries are a growing concern. yesterday Duncan Garner tweeted:

Clarification; on Saturday in I said burglaries were up almost 12% in one year. I was wrong. Stats NZ just told me it was 14%

Yesterday the Dominion Post editorial: No easy answer for burglaries

The police brass estimates that they currently get an officer to 70 per cent of burglaries. Unfortunately, they solve many fewer than that – about 9 per cent of those recorded.

On the face of it, a guarantee of attendance by the police seems an obvious response. Yet criminologists and those who represent police officers agree that simply attending burglaries does not offer a sure bet of improvement.

There are no witnesses to most burglaries, so catching the offenders is difficult. A low resolution rate is not unique to this moment, nor to New Zealand; it is, to some extent, just the nature of burglaries.

On the other hand, as criminologist Greg Newbold points out, sending officers to follow up on what most people regard as an invasive crime can be reassuring to victims. Failing to send them, meanwhile, can breed cynicism – among those affected, their neighbours, and perhaps even those committing the crimes.

It may not be as bad as it sounds.

Still, as Collins was at pains to point out a couple of days after her announcement, burglary numbers over the past year have defied the trend and leapt upwards – by about 12 per cent nationally.

Some of this increase appears to be down to a methodological change in how burglaries are counted. Some may be due to more scrupulous counting by the police in the wake of the scandal over doctored burglary counts in Counties-Manukau in 2014. Certainly other police statistics suggest that recent burglary numbers remain far lower than they were in the mid-1990s, despite a much larger population.

But we still have a significant problem.

The Police Association says it reflects deeper currents of drug and gang crime. Whatever the cause, and however hard the solutions, burglary is certainly a crime that causes public anxiety – and thus political peril. Collins’ populist intervention – and her decision to draw attention to a rising category of crime happening on her watch –  is a clear signal she is aware of that.

Collins should also be aware of a proposal from ACT’s David Seymour – 3 strikes for burglary. This is outlined in the latest ACT Free Press.

Burglary Up
Burglary is up and even National MPs’ electorate offices are now being burgled. The police minister says that the police will now attend every burglary, but what will that mean?  Police generally know what is happening on their patch and prioritise accordingly.  We doubt that attending every burglary will increase the resolution rate because most burglaries are carried out by professionals too smart to leave traces.  We wonder what other crimes police will now not attend to.

Unless the number of front line police officers is increased more time spent on burglaries will mean less time spent on other crime.

Three Strikes for Burglary
Earlier in the year ACT tabled its Three Strikes for Burglary bill, but other MPs objected to it being debated.  The policy is very simple: with resolution rates as low as they are, you have to commit a lot of burglaries to be convicted three times, so you should be sentenced to three years.  ACT’s Three Strikes for violent and sexual offences has been a success at reducing reoffending for those crimes.  ACT will continue campaigning for a Three Strikes rule for burglary.

Is 3 strikes, 3 years for burglary worth considering? Should we keep recidivist burglars off the street and out of our homes for longer?

Burglary problems

This week the Herald has focused on major burglary problems, and have summarised in today’s editorial.

Priorities askew on burglaries

The Herald‘s startling burglary series this week has revealed that nearly every homeowner has a story about the crime. If they haven’t been burgled themselves, it is more than likely that they know someone who has, and often more than once.

The Prime Minister, responding to the revelation that burglars got away on average with a staggering 164 crimes a day, had several episodes to recount. Mr Key even once confronted an intruder in his own home. And while police turned up swiftly after that disturbing experience, the prowler was not caught.

Many people who responded to our reports complained that the criminals who entered their homes, smashed their way into their cars or forced open doors of their workplaces never seemed to be apprehended.

If burglars aren’t apprehended then they are likely to keep repeating their crimes.

This raises a challenge for the police, who maintain that resolving burglaries is a priority. This is not the impression held by a significant number of the burglary victims who reported their experiences and who questioned whether police were devoting sufficient resources to catching the criminals.

Police made the point that the definition of burglary had altered so that many minor offences – the example of a basketball going missing from a lawn was offered – now were included in burglary statistics.

That may be so but the insistent message from burglary victims reacting to our coverage and the impact of offending makes it clear that families whose homes have been burgled often are left feeling helpless, violated and fearful.

Burglary can be a major violation and there are risks of associated violence.

It may be a common crime for the police but to victims it is a major problem.

Burglaries make up about 15 per cent of reported crime. The last Treasury estimate, in 2005, of the annual cost to the state of burglaries was $626 million.

The Minister of Police believes individuals have to play their part by securing their property. Many do of course, but still get burgled. Resisting the temptation to buy goods at “hot” prices would also be a deterrent because burglars do not steal appliances and other goods to keep.

There is another measure which many want to see. In the published 38-page briefing police gave their minister after the last election, the word “burglary” does not appear, though the police declared in the document that victims were “at the centre of our response”.

The findings of our series – that nearly 60,000 burglaries went unsolved in New Zealand last year and that in 24 police districts not a single incident was resolved – suggests it is high time the police revised their priorities.

If it is easy to get away with burglary then the problem will remain a major problem.

It can obviously be difficult finding criminals when often their crimes are discovered after they have long gone, but if police put more of a priority on solving and deterring property thefts it would reduce the number of victims.





On ACT’s 3 strikes for burglars policy

ACT leader Jamie Whyte has announced more detail on his party’s three strikes for burglars policy. NZ Herald reports Jail burglars after third offence, says Act.

More than 2000 families will have returned home from the Easter break to find they had been burgled, and Act says it is the only New Zealand political party offering a serious solution.

Party leader Jamie Whyte yesterday outlined a three-strikes policy, under which burglars will spend at least three years in prison if convicted of the crime a third time.

Fewer than 2 per cent of burglaries resulted in a term of imprisonment last year, Dr Whyte said, and the Act policy would change this.

“Burglary is a problem that requires strong political leadership. Act is the only party with a policy that can significantly reduce this blight on our society.”

There’s been a wide range of opinions expressed at Kiwiblog in ACT proposes three strikes for burglaries including ‘FE Smith’ with a warning for ACT.

It is sad that a right wing libertarian party has to adopt the policies of the most authoritarian UK government in 100 years, and a Labour one at that, in order to be relevant.

I seem to remember that ACT was doing its best in the polls when it concentrated on economic issues, which is why I have generally supported it.

The Herald summarises ACT’s three strikes:

• Offenders will be sentenced to three years in prison without parole if convicted of a third burglary offence.

• Juvenile offenders will not have their convictions treated as strikes unless they are convicted of a further offence in adulthood.

• The third-strike penalty may be overruled by a judge who believed there to be extreme hardship in sentencing the offender to three years in prison.

PaulL covers the main policy points at Kiwiblog and makes some comments:

Gee, there’s a lot of people talking crap on here today. Luckily some nuggets in there, which include:

  1. The policy only applies to those over 18 on getting their third strike
  2. The policy as proposed is retrospective. That’s a bad idea, and needs to be changed, we don’t want some political parties getting the idea that we agree with retrospective law changes
  3. The policy as proposed can catch someone for three offences all in one go, rather than needing a warning, then a repeat, then a warning, then a repeat. That’s probably also a bad idea and needs changing.
  4. A policy like this is no use without also increasing the clearance rates for burglary investigations. Is it a case of increasing police resourcing, or do they actually know who did most of the crimes and don’t have time/inclination/laws to deal with it? I seem to recall some suggestion that 80% of property crimes are committed by a very small group of people (the ones this law would hopefully lock up)
  5. We also need some attempt to address some of the prompters of crime. That is to say, many people commit crimes to feed their (illegal) drug habit or due to mental health issues. – so both decriminalise drugs, and provide better treatment options for drug and mental health issues.

That would be a reasonable and comprehensive policy. Where’s Jamie Whyte on that?

One comment was that “Three years in jail equals about $270,000” – would that sort of money be best to go towards more and longer sentences, or towards prevention, apprehension and conviction under the current laws?

ACT links:

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler has added:

I don’t agree that the policy is retrospective.

The law change being proposed is that those with the prior convictions for burglary must receive a sentence with a non-parole period of at least 3 years. The burglary for which this is imposed must be a burglary committed after the law enters into force.

There is no retrospectivity in this proposal.

Not saying I support it, and you could argue everyone should get at a formal warning, like the three strikes for violent offending regime, but it’s not retrospective.