Sinister doorknocks: Caught on camera in broad daylight

Chris Marriner and Heath Moore, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Aug 2019, 2:03PM
A third person has come forward claiming they have been the target of a suspicious doorknocker on the North Shore - this time in broad daylight. Photo / Facebook
A third person has come forward claiming they have been the target of a suspicious doorknocker on the North Shore - this time in broad daylight. Photo / Facebook

Sinister doorknocks: Caught on camera in broad daylight

Chris Marriner and Heath Moore, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Aug 2019, 2:03PM

Fears of a suspicious doorknocker targeting homes on Auckland's North Shore - in broad daylight - are being shared on social media.

It comes as residents from Beach Haven this week told the Herald they have received early morning knocks on their doors from a woman who appeared to act distressed and claiming to have been attacked by four men, demanding the occupants let her inside.

Now an East Coast Bays resident claims they were approached by the same man twice in two weeks around 12pm.

Posting on Facebook, the resident says the suspicious man's inconsistent explanation for knocking on the door raised alarm bells.

"This man has knocked on our door twice at approximately 12pm in the past two weeks looking for random people," the resident claims.

"Last week he asked for Amanda and today he was looking for Ivana.

"Last week he was driving a blue hatchback and this week a blue sedan.

"After he knocked on our door he knocked on the neighbour's door and was also sent away."

Pictures of the alleged incident show the man knocking on the door before walking away and trying the neighbour's house.

In the images the man is wearing a black hoodie, black pants, white shoes, a red-peak hat and sunglasses. They also show the blue car he was spotted leaving in.

The incident is understood to have occurred on East Coast Bays Rd.

According to the resident, police were called.

The post has been shared in a number of Facebook groups on behalf of the resident.

The Herald has contacted police for comment.

It comes just days after another Beach Haven resident said she's fearing for her family's safety.

The Auckland mum heard a light knocking at her front door at 4am one morning and found a woman asking to be let in.

Fearing that the visitor was not acting alone, she did not agree to the request and told the woman to leave the property before calling the police.

"[At] 4am this morning we had a girl lightly knock three times at our door.

"She said 'let me in I need some help', she was very clearly not distressed. Normally I would, but I've seen posts where there's a male waiting outside."

The woman, whose three young children and husband were sleeping in the house, then confronted the stranger.

"I said to her 'what do you want?' She just said 'let me in, I need some help'. I yelled and told her I'm not letting you in go away or I'll call the cops. She left fast."

A reformed burglar - who once targeted homes in the early morning - told the Herald what he believes is driving the sinister trend of door-knock robbery attempts and how Kiwis can protect themselves.

Adrian Pritchard spent six years in jail for burglary offences he committed from his teens through to his early twenties, and now works in the community, advising the public and private companies on how they can protect themselves.

Pritchard blames the rise in methamphetamine use for the nature of the crimes: "In the early hours of the morning people are detoxing and they're wanting a quick fix, so they're wanting a quick hit so they can get their quick fix."

"They're looking for another quick earn to get a $50 bag or $100 bag."

There has been a disturbing change in criminal behaviour, Pritchard says, warning of dire consequences if burglars were disturbed.

"Back in our day it was more strategic. Today people don't care. Even if you get woken up or you catch someone, people don't care, they stab you, they do whatever."

Pritchard is particularly qualified to advise Kiwis on how to protect themselves from early morning robberies - he used to commit them.

"We used to knock on doors at 3 or 4 in the morning and we found out no one was there so we burgled the place," he said.

"Between 3 and 5 was our main time to hit the place."

"We used to burgle people's places when they're still asleep, burgle their sheds, take their power tools, take their cars, take whatever."

"Or we used to see a laptop just sitting on the sitting room table so we used to just smash the window quickly because by the time they got up and got going you'd be gone."

Saying that it was "a lot easier for someone to open the door for a woman than some scruffy guy", Pritchard warns Kiwis to "never, ever open the door".

Homeowners should "ring the cops straight away and let them deal with the situation", he said.

Advice from police mirrors much of what Pritchard says, with residents told not open their doors to unexpected strangers.

Senior Constable Paul Donaldson, the acting sergeant at Glenfield Station, told the Herald that anyone had the right to knock on someone's door: "It's a common-law right for any citizen to knock on anybody's front door, regardless of the time, unless they have been trespassed from that property."

He said: "If someone is knocking on your door at that time in the morning and you're not expecting it, try and see, without turning on the lights, who is at the door, without going to the door."

"Speak to them through a side window and say 'what do you want' and qualify their intent."

Donaldson advised anyone believing that a visitor had a genuine need, to tell them to wait on the doorstep and call police.

"Don't put yourself at any risk of going out there and getting involved in potentially a scheme that will see you a victim of their ill-intent," he said.

Police recommend people follow this advice to keep their homes secure and suggested remembering these key points:

  • Don't open the door to strangers. Install a peephole in your door. If you don't know someone, keep the door closed.
  • Have a phone by your bed.
  • Arrange with a neighbour to phone or visit you if your curtains are still drawn after a certain time in the morning.
  • Never tell someone that you are alone in the house.
  • Install a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is at your door.
  • Keep your doors and windows secure and close your curtains at night.
  • Invest in good-quality, secure locks.