Peterborough burglars are being warned ‘we are watching you’ by detectives striving to take the crooks of city streets.
A week long crackdown on burglary started early on Monday morning when officers started banging on doors of suspects’ addresses.
The number of burglaries in Peterborough and across Cambridgeshire has risen over the past 12 months, and the crackdown was targeted at bring that rise to a halt.
Just this weekend, one city home was hit by raiders, who got away with £30,000 of gold and a ‘large amount of cash.’ The burglary happened on Friday, March 9 in Edwalton Avenue, West Town.
On Monday morning warrants were issued at a number of homes across the city - with The Peterborough Telegraph joining them on the operation.
One of the targets for the operation was an eastern European man suspected of carrying out a burglary in Eye, with other teams focusing on other wanted men.
Officers had recovered a glove from the scene with the Eastern European man’s DNA on (Another suspect for a different burglary had left a knife at the scene with his DNA on).
After a 7am briefing at Thorpe Wood Police Station, a team of officers went to an address in Cardea, where his former partner lives.
As part of the team banged on the front door - with other members covering the back garden - curtains started twitching as interested neighbours were keen to find out what was happening.
The suspect was not found at the house, but officers were able to pick up a number of leads.
A trek across town to Eye to a known associates’ address proved equally futile, with no-one in at the home.
A final stop in West Town at a previous address reveals the suspect had moved away a number of years ago.
The second team - who were looking for the suspect who left the knife - also came up empty handed, despite checking out four address in locations across Peterborough.
But despite leaving the operation empty handed, the teams were still in high spirits - with other targets being hunted for later in the day.
The daughter and grandaughter of the Eye burglary victim spoke to The Peterborough Telegraph, and revealed exactly why it was crucial to bring offenders to justice.
The pair asked to remain anonymous, but said their elderly relative had been hit hard by what happened.
Her daughter said: “Its left her very nervous and scared - she jumps at any noise - its taken her quite a while to realise she is safe and everything has been done that we can do.”
The raid happened about three weeks ago just before midnight.
The burglar got away empty handed, after being disturbed by the residents, who called out after hearing a noise.
Her daughter said: “For the first week I ended up staying as she could not be left alone. She was shaky and not eating properly.
“She is still jumpy at the slightest thing - she still thinks the burglar will come back.”
A number of new security measures have been installed at her home to keep her safe.
In the 12 months to the end of February, there were 2869 dwelling burglaries, compared to 2142 for the same period the year before, a rise of 34 per cent.
Superintendant Ian Middleton, from Cambridgeshire police, said there were a number of reasons for the increase in burglary.
He said: “In common with almost every force in the country we have seen a rise in burglary in Cambridgeshire over the past 12 months.
“In some communities it is still custom to have large amounts of gold in homes, and it has become ‘more liquid’ for criminals to turn gold into cash. Jus t this weekens we saw £30,000 of gold taken from one home.
“It is more difficult to break into cars, and criminals who used to either steal cars, or steal from cars, are having to break in to take the keys to do that.
“We are also seeing a large rise in people travelling from further afield to commit burglary.”
Along with warning burglars they are being watched, police are also handing out advice to residents to help them stay safe from break-ins.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Simmons said: “I would encourage householders to take a look at the crime prevention advice on our force website and just take that one extra step towards protecting their home and property.
“It could be locking doors and windows at all times, particularly as spring approaches, or downloading tracking software on tablets and phones.
“I would also recommend the www.securedbydesign.com website and to consider investing in a monitored alarm system or CCTV to act as a deterrent.
“If your property has a garage, please store your vehicle securely in it, especially if it is of high value and high performance.
“It is important to remain vigilant, but householders should not be alarmed – the risk of being burgled in Cambridgeshire remains low and with a few sensible precautions residents can do a significant amount to lessen that risk still further.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “I understand just how distressing household burglary can be for victims; not just when the crime takes place, but afterwards when long term affects can be felt. I want to reassure people that burglary remains a force priority with everything possible being done to target offenders.”
For more crime prevention advice visit www.cambs.police.uk
Anyone with information about burglary is asked to contact Cambridgeshire police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.