The comments come following an increase in the number of burglaries reported in the first quarter of the year, compared to data from the past two years.
A total of 45 burglaries were reported to the police within the past three months. This is an increase of nine for the same period last year and 14 for the year before that.
In a release posted to Facebook on Tuesday night, the police revealed that a safe in a tourist’s bungalow in Titikaveka had been broken into and a little over $12,000 had been taken. Some commenters speculated that it must have been an “inside job”, questioning how anyone would have known about the money. Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt was hesitant to elaborate on the incident, as the investigation is still ongoing. However, he did confirm that the police classed it as “a significant incident”, and that the Criminal Investigation Branch was now involved with the investigation. Pitt also confirmed that the victim was still able to leave the country, despite the loss. A police statement said that “around half” of all burglary incidences were occurring within the Takitumu district, where there is a high density of tourism facilities. The burglary toll is costing the country in many ways, it continued, straining the police’s resources and personnel. The increase in incidences is “casting a spotlight on security measures” within the tourism sector said the statement.
The police have said there are a “range of concerns” about securing tourist facilities, stating that business owners needed to apply “more stringent measures”. However, they admitted that this is a costly investment.
Police will “actively pursue the full application of the law” for those who are caught offending however. Detective Inspector Areumu Ingaua says this includes the possibility of being imprisoned for up to 10 years, which is the maximum sentence for burglary.
Police also recognise the “growing community demands” for safety and security.
“Promoting tourism… has a correlation with safety and security,” the release said.
It went on to say that tourists need to be made aware of the risks involved with leaving their valuables exposed, and that safes may need to be reviewed “in terms of their robustness against criminal tools”.