New tools help fight burglaries

New tools help fight burglaries

Burglaries are estimated to cost households and businesses more than $1 billion a year.

The number of recorded offences has plunged from more than 80,000 in 1996 to around 54,000 last year.

While that's positive, the amount of break-ins being solved remains low – at just 12.1 percent in 2014.

So what are the police doing to bust burglars and what new strategies are out there to fight back?

Crime scene examiner Struan Ferguson has been catching burglars for almost 30 years. He's seen his fair share of upset homeowners.

The DNA and fingerprints he collects are used by officers like Sergeant Dave Christoffersen, whose job it is to track down the burglars.

Out on patrol he comes across all types of thieves. 

"Sometimes we get drug-fuelled offenders who will go on a bender and do a number of burglaries, a string of burglaries," says Sgt Christoffersen. "For some of them it's a kick, and some of them it's a lifestyle; they get funds through it."

He says stopping them is a job police can't do alone. Last year only one in eight burglaries were solved.

Inspector Gary Davy is the crime prevention manager for Auckland.

"We do treat burglaries seriously," he says. "We will attend, we will look for DNA and we will look for fingerprints. We do our best to try and prosecute the offenders."

But we need to think about how we can help stop burglars from targeting us. For that, police say they need our help, first up by reporting the crime. It's estimated only 43 percent of burglaries are ever reported.

Selecta DNA is a liquid substance you can put on your pricey stuff, but it's invisible to the naked eye. Each kit costs $50. In the liquid there are tiny chips that are all uniquely coded, so they can help trace a stolen item back to its owner.

At Newmarket Primary School they are now using Selecta DNA on their notebooks. Since they've been doing it, school burglaries are down 38 percent. In fact, Selecta DNA helped get a stolen computer back.

Given how few burglaries are solved, it may be exactly what police need to help them do their jobs.

Watch the video for the full Story report.