Burglary is being treated as a top priority by police chiefs in Sheffield, with a crack team set up to identify offenders wreaking misery across the city.
With homes broken into across the city every day, a new team has been set up to concentrate on investigating burglaries in a bid to identify prolific offenders and drive down offences.
The team will map offences, identify suspects, monitor known or suspected prolific offenders and carry out both overt and covert operations to deter crooks or catch them in the act.
A warning has been issued that regular raids are planned to arrest those suspected of breaking into homes or handling stolen goods.
Pictures of suspects wanted for questioning will also be released.
Detective Inspector Jamie Henderson, who will oversee Operation Furnace, which launches today, said burglary is a priority for the new year.
“This is a dedicated team focusing on burglary and those we suspect of committing crimes – either breaking into homes or handling stolen goods. The team will deal with it all,” he said.
“We are re-focusing on burglary, it is a priority for us to investigate offences and those we suspect of committing them.”
Det Insp Henderson added: “Burglary is one of the most intrusive offences there is – knowing someone has been in your house when you were asleep or at work.
“It causes some of the most upset, leaving children not wanting to go back into their own homes afterwards for example.
“I was burgled as a child and remember it now. It was horrible.
“This team will target those bringing harm to families and communities.”
Det Insp Henderson said burglars often target communities and break into a number of homes in a short space of time – spreading fear among the local residents.
He said: “The idea that burglars only strike in the dead of night is outdated.
“They will break into homes at all times – and prefer to commit an offence when a property is unattended rather than risk a confrontation. It is very rare that they will just target one house, they often target a community and are responsible for multiple offences usually to fulfil an addiction.”
Det Insp Henderson said burglaries are often difficult to investigate because of the lack of forensic evidence or witnesses but he said the increasing popularity of domestic CCTV systems could prove helpful in identifying culprits.
He also said information from communities is key to cracking cases.
“We will do all we can in terms of forensics, investigating suspects and mapping offences and criminals but we need communities to play their part too and pass on intelligence about who is active,” he added.
“They can pass on information in lots of ways – to officers and PCSOs in the street or via social media.
“It all helps us build a picture around who is offending.
“CCTV images from homes in communities where offences have been committed could also be key to solving cases.
“More and more homes now have systems fitted, so they could prove invaluable.”
n Anyone with information about burglars in action in Sheffield should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.