Fighting fires & thieves
By EMMA CORNFORD
AS South Grafton fire captain Dennis Pye bolted out his back door at 2.15am on his way to a fire call, he didn't think to lock his back door.
After 15 years in the fire brigade and 5000 fire calls without incident, the thought had never crossed his mind.
But that morning, someone was watching or noticed the open back door and made their way into his house, propping open the door with a pair of shoes.
As Mr Pye fought the housefire in nearby Bent Street, thieves helped themselves to his wife's handbag, some loose change and grabbed his car keys, rifling through his car and stealing a CD wallet.
"They were obviously looking for quick money because they didn't take any other items which might of been of value .. and thankfully they didn't steal the car," Mr Pye said.
"I've lived in that house for the past 32 years and it's only been the last five or 10 where I've even considered locking it at all, but now I make sure everything's securely locked all the time. You can't help but feel untrusting to anyone who's even walking around the house now."
Mr Pye said he had 'definitely' noticed an increase in the amount of activity around the streets of Grafton lately.
"It's up one million per cent and it's all night ? sometimes until three or four in the morning," he said.
"It's not just around here, either ? it's around the whole area in general."
Mr Pye's home was broken into on October 5, but is not the only house to have been targetted in recent weeks.
There have been seven break and enters investigated by police since the beginning of the month, and anecdotal evidence suggests there have been others which may have gone unreported.
One South Grafton resident, who declined to be named, had his house broken into last week.
"(My wife) went door-knocking around the place to see if anyone had seen her wallet ... and she came across at least six other break-ins around the area in the past couple of weeks," he said.
"In a lot of them there seemed to be a common theme where the toe-rags had put sandshoes under the screen door to keep it open and they'd just gone for quick cash."
Coffs/Clarence area command crime prevention officer Brad Wheeler said people needed to be aware about security in their homes, especially heading into summer.
"Often people leave their main doors open, with only their flyscreen doors closed at night (but) this makes it easier for opportunists and professional thieves to enter and steal handbags, wallets and other accessible items," he said.