Black tape on your letterbox... what does it mean?
WHEN a Ballina woman found a piece of black tape hanging on the side of her letterbox, she took to social media to ask: "Does it mean anything?"
Posting the question on the Ballina Crime Reports Facebook page, she received an overwhelming response.
The most common theory was that the black tape was a "marker" used by thieves, probably to identify homes that had a dog which could be stolen, possibly for dog-fighting rings.
Others said that tape was put on homes that were easy targets for robberies.
"If you have animals please lock them away, could be someone marking for someone to come back later," one person wrote.
Another woman agreed: "Could be someone marking your fence if you have a dog. I'd be throwing it (the tape) away and keeping your pets close. Hopefully it's nothing. I've had my fence marked because I've got a staffy."
Many others warned the Ballina woman to inform the police and her neighbours.
In the past, police have investigated similar incidents after a spate of dog thefts, which police believed was part of an illegal dog fighting scene.
In 2013 Lismore police said thieves were targeting homes with bull mastiffs and Staffordshire terriers.
"The locations that house these dogs may be marked with some type of tagging or marking on their front gates or similar," police said at the time.
However thieves can also use markers to identify homes for robberies.
One woman explained: "Could also mean a mark for an easy target for a robbery. We had that happening in our street months ago.
"Got marked on our gutter with chalk and I washed it off.
"Two nights later my partner and I happened to look out the front at about 8pm and saw a group of... blokes casing houses that were marked.
"One stood out front while the other one walked up the side of the house to see a way in.
"Quiet as a mouse they were.
"We made it known we were watching, they looked straight at us and just kept doing it.
"Called the cops (but) they took forever."
The resounding advice was to be vigilant -- call the authorities, keep lights on and keep an eye open for anything unusual.