Break-ins leaving students on edge

By Emily Heyward (she/her)

UC student Kayla Gush has been feeling “on edge” after a stranger climbed through her apartment window in the middle of the night.  

Gush and her partner awoke one morning in March to find that someone had been inside their studio in Ilam and had stolen personal belongings as they slept.  

“We had someone climb in through a window while we were asleep and take my e-scooter and also took the time to take the charger which was tucked behind a dresser and also took my partner’s wallet and went on a spending spree the next day.” 

Gush said the incident left her “in shock”. 

“I had a bit of a cry. It just felt like such a huge violation, and all these thoughts of what if they decided to come into our bedroom ran through my head.” 

While Police offered the pair Victim Support, Gush said the ordeal had left her feeling unsettled.   

“It’s definitely put me more on edge; I’m home alone some nights, so I draw the curtains and triple check the window.” 

And the couple were not the only ones feeling on edge in their flats in the Ilam-Riccarton area.  

In an online survey of students on the UCSA noticeboard, more than 70 students reported feeling unsafe when home alone in their flats across Ilam-Riccarton.  

More than 80 students said their flat had been broken into this year, with about 120 students saying they had seen someone scoping out their place.  

Canterbury District risk and performance manager senior sergeant Richard Chambers said Police were noticing a rise in burglaries in the area. 

“Police are aware of a spike in the Upper Riccarton, Wharenui and Ilam areas for burglary. However, it appears commercial premises are being targeted as opposed to residential properties.” 

He said burglaries at residential properties had “slightly increased over time” but were not significantly higher than in previous years.  

However, Chambers emphasised the importance of students remaining vigilant and ensuring they were keeping their flats secure.  

“Students should also take the time to ensure their flat is locked when no one is home and that each flatmate has a key.  

“We receive several reports of burglaries where a flat has been left unlocked either as an oversight or on purpose because someone does not actually have a key to get back inside,” he said.  

Chambers was also encouraging students to ensure their bikes were being locked up at home and at uni or workplaces, as they had become the latest target for thieves across the city.  

Police were urging students to report any matters of concern as soon as possible, either by calling 111 in an emergency or 105 in non-emergency situations.