Cook Islands Security and police are calling on home owners to be vigilant and exercise caution after an increase in home break-ins.
Over the weekend, four break-ins were reported to police and this has raised concerns over security around homes.
And yesterday another break-in was reported to police after an Arorangi tourist facility was targeted.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said the burglaries occurred around Rarotonga during the long weekend, with houses affected in Tupapa, Rutaki, Matavera and Titikaveka, while a prowler was also reported at Matavera and Arorangi.
Two of the locations reported missing items including a phone, cigarettes, cash, shoes and drinks.
Security director Chris Denny said they have received many calls regarding prowlers snooping around properties and suspicious individuals turning up at homes.
Denny said it’s been over three months with no tourists and income for some individuals.
He said these individuals are after money to buy cigarettes and alcohol mainly so they are targeting “anybody and everything”.
“This can be very upsetting for most families. The key is to work with your neighbours to watch over each other and investigate why the dogs are barking.”
Denny said that it would be sad that tourists could be easier targets when borders reopen and tourists return.
“Cook Islands Security was established to protect our visitors 18-months ago but we will have our hands full ensuring our first wave of tourists aren’t terrorised by our local thieves,” he said.
Police said thieves will target vulnerable dwellings and attempt the easy pickings like phones, cash and alcohol.
“Residential homes need to be vigilant about unfamiliar people in the area or suspicious activity around neighbouring property, particularly as criminal attention has shifted due to the current halt on tourism,” Trevor Pitt said.
Pitt added that all these cases are under investigation and half of the incidents reported unknown or no missing items.
He said the culprits’ motives are not clear but every precaution needs to be taken over security of valuables.