'I used to feel safe': Brazen thieves wreak havoc
IT'S the stuff of nightmares: you're at home and unbeknown to you, a stranger ransacks your bedroom, stealing almost $30,000 worth of items.
Ballina woman Laurel Spuur was watching television with her husband on the night of August 17 when the doorbell rang about 10.45pm.
They couple would normally be asleep, but the unseasonally warm night had them up later than usual.
Ms Spuur said her husband answered the door to find no one was there.
They went back to watching television, as the intruder broke in through the bedroom window and stole about $26,000 worth of belongings, mostly antique and sentimental jewellery.
A computer, cameras and a bag were also taken.
Left rattled by the incident, Ms Spuur has warned residents to lock up their homes after reports of break-ins sweeping through the Ballina area.
"I used to feel safe in Ballina," she said.
"They're so brazen, they don't care if you're home or not.
"I feel terrible now... I don't feel the same in this house."
Ms Spuur said they feared a group might be involved with a spate of recent break-ins and thefts, with other residents across the town having shared similar stories.
"I do believe they're just doing it strategically, going through Ballina and ripping everyone off," she said.
"They're really playing havoc on people.
"I feel that people in Ballina should be warned."
Richmond Police District Inspector Russell Ewing said it was alarming to know homes were being broken into while residents were inside.
But he warned against being complacent on home security just because you're present.
"Especially at night, you have to be prepared," he said.
"Go around and secure your home, make sure your garage is locked."
Insp Ewing urged residents to secure their homes and keep valuables out of sight.
He said those unsure of how they could make their homes safer could contact their local police station.
"We're more than happy to lend some advice," Insp Ewing said.
Recorded offences of thefts from homes in the Ballina Shire were slightly above the state average for the 12 months to March this year, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
Homes in the area are more likely to be targeted by thieves during the day, with 159.5 incidents per 100,000 people, compared to 115 incidents per 100,000 people at night.