Hampshire Constabulary launched an operational focus to banish burglary in December in a bid to tackle acquisitive crime over the festive period.
Officers from the dedicated Operation Hawk teams worked with colleagues from Neighbourhood Policing, Response and Patrol, and other specialist resources across the force to develop intelingence, prevent burglaries from taking place, and maximise the forensic potential where crimes had been committed.
The campaign, known as Operation Banish, included crime prevention messaging and encouragement to the public to report suspicious activity that could be linked to burglary.
Between November 29 and December 31 a total of 313 residential burglaries were reported to us, 92 of which were in Southampton. A further 279 break-ins to sheds and garages were also reported to us, 66 of these were in the New Forest.
The proactive work undertaken towards Operation Banish over the same period led to:
- A total of 55 people arrested in relation to 112 offences, 16 of whom faced formal action being taken, such as charges
- Attendance to 567 of the 592 reports, with 246 (43%) being attended within an hour (or less) due to the grading of the call received. A total of 120 incidents were attended in Southampton, and 77 in Portsmouth.
- Forensic opportunities were identified at 92 burglaries when specialist officers attended. Enquiries are ongoing in these investigations to identify further suspects as results from these forensic opportunities continue to be obtained.
- A total of 153 social media posts relating to burglary arrests, charges, crime prevention, and appeals were issued between the start of overt activity on 6 December and 31 December across Neighbourhood Policing Facebook and Twitter accounts. The combined reach of these posts was 2,057,118 people.
An example of one of the burglaries we’ve investigated in the last month was on Thomas Road in North Baddesley following a break-in early on Thursday 9 December. We were called just after 3.30am to reports of an ongoing burglary after a neighbour noticed noise and torches inside. A water cylinder had been stolen. A 30-year-old man of no fixed address was located in the garden on suspicion of burglary. Adam Paul Welch was subsequently charged in with burglary as part of our investigation and has been remanded to next appear at Southampton Crown Court on Tuesday 25 January.
Chief Inspector Marcus Cator who led the Operation Banish activity said: “We understand how distressing burglary can be for victims. It’s not simply a case of valuables being stolen, but the emotional impact of this and the effect it can have on people feeling safe in their own home. We provide support to victims as part of our response to burglary, but this is why it’s so important that people report suspicious activity to us in the first place as it can help us to prevent offending before it has even happened.
“Our Neighbourhood Teams have been building a comprehensive picture of what’s been happening in our communities, and this really helped us to target our Operation Banish activity.
“The figures speak for themselves. We’ve made some significant arrests as part of this focus on burglary and are working hard with the forensic opportunities that have presented themselves to secure further evidence and convictions where possible.
“Traditionally burglary reports increase around Christmas with darker evenings and people buying valuables as presents. I’m pleased that teams from across the force have tackled this issue so confidently and provided an excellent level of service to our communities. We’ll continue to take the same approach where we can, regardless of the time of year to tackle and prevent acquisitive crime across Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight”.
You can also help to protect your home and property by following some simple steps:
- Lock all windows and doors, remembering to double lock UPVC doors by lifting the handle and turning the key. Remove keys from the window and door lock and keep in a safe place out of reach and sight from the letterbox or windows.
- Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows. Register your property for free on www.immobilise.com
- Ensure side and back gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property. Also make sure sheds and garages are locked with reliable and robust locks to deter any potential burglars. Choose a product which is tested and certified by Sold Secure and Secured by Design to the Police Preferred Specification.
- Do not leave ladders and garden tools in your garden; lock them away in your shed. Improve natural surveillance to the front of your property by trimming hedges.
- Consider installing an intruder alarm system by contacting an approved contractor who is a member of the National Security Inspectorate and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board..
- A house that appears occupied is less likely to be targeted by burglars, installing light switch timers inside the house can help make it appear occupied. Likewise, dusk to dawn or sensor lighting to the front and rear of your home can help deter potential thieves
For info on how to protect your home visit: https://www.hampshire.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/protect-home-crime/
We want to hear from you. Have you seen anything suspicious in your area, especially now that the nights have drawn in? You can report suspicious behaviour here: https://www.hampshire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard/