THIRTY seconds. That’s all the time it can take for a burglar to sneak through an unlocked back door, grab the wallet you left on the kitchen bench and vanish.
The region’s crime prevention police officer, Leading Sen-Constable Helen Parfett, said the days of 20 years ago when your house could be left unlocked are gone.
Now, she said, you can’t even leave the doors or windows open when you’re at home.
“Your house was your haven, this was your safe place, but unfortunately now times have changed,” Sen-Constable Parfett said.
She spoke of a case where a woman was in her backyard gardening when a thief sneaked in and snatched her purse.
“Gone in 30 seconds,” Sen-Constable Parfett said.
“They never want to be seen, heard or caught.”
At this point, we could turn to Victoria Police’s crime statistics released last week for an easy example of how out of control burglaries in Wodonga are.
Comparing last year with 2011, the statistics showed an 18 per cent rise from 303 residential burglaries to 359.
But Wodonga’s Crime Investigation Unit, the detectives responsible for investigating the offences, say arrests they made late last year had driven the crime right down.
“Things have quietened down,” Detective Acting Sgt Andrew Leonard said.
“It’s not at the rate we were getting them beforehand.”
In the majority of cases in the past month, he said doors and windows have been forced open, but there were several instances where Wodonga residents just hadn’t locked up.
But locked or unlocked, a handbag left on a kitchen bench proves to be too tasty a morsel for thieves to knock back.
Sgt Leonard said that last Friday night, a West Wodonga woman was dropped off to her Howqua Court home after being out for dinner.
She watched television, had a shower and went to bed, leaving her handbag on the kitchen bench.
Sgt Leonard said a burglar forced open the fly-wire screen, slid open an unlocked window and made off with $150.
So someone sneaks in and no one gets hurt, right?
Tell that to West Wodonga mum Bernadette Hodson who was burgled as she, her husband and daughters slept on November 11.
Thieves forced open a garage door, went through an unlocked door into the house and stole their two cars, laptop and iPhones.
The Hodsons were not woken from their slumber but the invasion had a lingering effect.
“It was a big thing for our family, especially for my daughters, it shook them a lot,” Ms Hodson said.