Police issue warning ahead of clocks going back as 48 people are charged in burglary crackdown

Burglaries decrease but people still warned to take steps to keep their homes safe

Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:23 pm
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:24 pm
Make sure to deter thieves

Communities across Bedfordshire have been urged to take steps to deter burglars ahead of the clocks going back, as Bedfordshire Police continues its crackdown on burglary.

Over the past year the force has seen reports of house burglaries decrease by 34 per cent, with recorded burglaries reaching their lowest ever levels in the county in July.

Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated Operation Maze burglary team has charged and taken 48 people to court for burglary related offences since January.

Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Smith, who heads up Op Maze, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought around many changes for people such as more of us working from home, which has been a deterrent for a lot of domestic burglaries.

“However, this overall fall in burglary numbers precedes the pandemic and with more people returning to work, this decrease is testament to the hard work of Op Maze.

“A huge part of that has been due to the fantastic partnership that Op Maze has with local partners such as Neighbourhood Watch and our local councils within the community.

“We must not get complacent though, especially as the clocks go back and the nights draw in, so I would encourage everyone to take steps to mark their property, deter any would-be burglars and keep themselves safe in the run up to Christmas.”

The force is sending out thousands of letters across the county over the coming days to households outlining steps they can take to help make their homes hostile to any opportunist thieves.

John Fullarton, Chair of Luton Neighbourhood Watch, said: “Crime reduction and Luton Neighbourhood Watch have had a strong partnership for many years and it’s something we are very proud of.

“We work closely with partners such as Bedfordshire Police, Luton Borough Council, their anti-social behaviour team and the fire service in order to get an understanding of what’s going on in our community and how we can tackle them together.

“We have worked with the Bedfordshire Police crime reduction team to install over 200 CCTV cameras in the area and we have created a messaging system for our members where they will receive daily updates on reported burglaries along with crime prevention advice, which has been a major tool in how we have worked to reduce burglaries in the area.

“I would like to thank our dedicated team who developed the messaging system that has been so vital in sharing important messages to our community. There are so many hard working people that make up Luton Neighbourhood Watch and their continued and dedicated work really does help to make our neighbourhood safer.”

Colleen Atkins, chair of Bedford and District Neighbourhood Watch, said: “The significant reduction in burglaries is really good news and shows what can be achieved by the police and residents working together.

“Op Maze has been a real success story with better awareness, better security and better reporting by residents of suspicions and incidents have all contributed to the reduction in burglaries. I’m pleased Neighbourhood Watch has been able to work closely in partnership with the police and council to help make this happen.

“Neighbourhood Watch is about neighbours coming together to create safer, stronger and active communities. As well as being good neighbours, residents in Neighbourhood Watch work alongside each other to help make the place where they live safer, friendlier and vibrant. Residents are also more equipped to tackle important issues affecting their community.

“Bedford was one of the first Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the country and next year we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. If you’re interested in preventing crime, creating a community spirit and improving your local environment, do come and join us. You’ll be most welcome.”

This weekend, the clocks will be go back an hour on Sunday (31 October). The force’s data shows that this time of year can coincide with an increase in these types of crimes in certain areas across Bedfordshire.

“At this time of year, we’re taking the opportunity to remind members of the public to be vigilant and sharing some simple steps we can all take to protect our homes,” said DCI Smith.

“We will continue to work to identify long-term crime hotspots, short-term spikes and key offending patterns, as well as investigating offences and carrying out disruptive tactics against known burglars.

“We will also be sending out letters with advice and reassurance to those areas most affected by crime and our community teams will be working with their local areas to share advice as well.”

Use your lights at home – keep them on a timer when you are out so it looks like someone is home

Make sure all doors on your house and vehicle are securely locked at all times. If you have a UPVC door at home, make sure it is double locked

Keep all valuables and keys safely out of sight from windows, both in your home and car. Close curtains with a light on indoors

Never leave garages or sheds unlocked – not only can valuable tools be appealing to thieves, they can also be used to force entry to your home

Don’t hide your keys under a doormat or in a flowerpot – it’s the first place a would-be offender will look

Ask a friend to keep an eye on your house when you go away, and do the same for neighbours by remaining alert to suspicious activity in your street

If you spot someone behaving suspiciously, contact police immediately

Don’t forget to security mark your property and register it on www.immobilise.com

Please report any incidents to Bedfordshire Police through their online reporting tool or by calling 101. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.