Southland floods: Thieves target empty homes in Mataura, Brydone

Thieves are targeting homes in communities ravaged by recent floods in rural Southland.

Two unattended homes in Mataura and Brydone were looted, prompting Southern Police to issue a community reminder about keeping properties secure.

Gore Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley says there are also reports of people seen on properties who "run off" when confronted.

"We've seen an amazing response from people who've been out helping neighbours and fellow residents after the floods, but unfortunately some properties have been targeted by thieves while they've been left unattended," she said in a statement.

About 6000 people were evacuated last week as rivers rose and threatened low-lying communities.

Police have increased their patrols in Mataura, Gore and Wyndham since the evacuations, and have brought in an additional team from Canterbury to assist them.

"This can also be a time of high stress and fatigue for residents, farmers and workers as the full impact of the flooding sinks in," Fairley says.

"We want people to remember to eat, rest, and take care of one another, and to reach out to the Rural Support Trust and Federated Farmers if help is needed."

Police urge people to lock and secure their homes and valuables, engrave tools and invest in a good security alarm system.

Fairley says trained counsellors can be contacted on 1737, a free, 24/7 text and call service number.

She thanked volunteers from Fire and Emergency NZ, Civil Defence, the New Zealand Defence Force and local community boards for their work and support during and after the flood.

Investigations into the burglaries are ongoing.

If the public has any information that could help police, Fairley asks them to call 105 or anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.