INSURANCE cheats who waste police time by posing as burglary victims face stinging fines under a purge announced yesterday by Humberside Police.
Senior officers say their "beat the burglar" strategy depends on focusing resources on tackling real crimes, not ones that have been invented by people hoping to make some easy money over Christmas by making false claims on their building and contents policies.
Detectives have already uncovered one case in Hull where a householder tried to mislead police. In the end, they found nothing to back up his claims to be a crime victim. He escaped punishment. But police say future culprits cannot expect to get off so lightly.
The aim is to increase the number of cases that are solved and prevent false reporting, according to Det Insp Darren Webb, from Hull's Priority Crime Team.
He said: "Burglary is a main priority for police due to it's serious impact on the victim. We will continue to investigate every burglary, and we will continue to detect them.
"However, we are committed to ensuring people do not make false reports for their own personal gain and take up valuable police time and resources. Those who do will be identified and issued with a fixed penalty ticket for wasting police time."
At the start of November a 21-year-old man reported a burglary, claiming car keys and electrical items had been stolen from his home in Suffolk Street, Hull.
A thorough investigation revealed discrepancies in the man's account and he admitted that he had not been burgled. In this case, no further action was taken against the man.
Det Supt Rick Proctor added: "We are striving to reduce the number of burglaries in the city by continuing to target offenders and through crime prevention work across Hull.
"We are committed to tackling burglary to the home and over the last two weeks alone, just as an example, we have arrested and interviewed 33 people linked with burglary type offences. The message we have for criminals is clear – we are here to protect the law abiding majority and should you choose to commit crime of this nature we will hunt you down and bring you to justice.
"Furthermore we are working with our partner agencies and the community whom we serve to help residents keep their homes secure and prevent them becoming a victim of crime."
Det Supt Proctor added: "The public still have a key role to play in tackling burglary by keeping their homes secure, as we still attend many burglaries where offenders have entered through open windows and doors.
"Also with Christmas homeowners should store presents safely out of view and consider investing in time switches for lights so homes look occupied even when they are not.
"I would urge the community to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious and information about those responsible for burglaries to Humberside Police on 0845 60 60 222 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
"The work police and partners are doing in Hull is making a real difference and is highlighted by the dramatic fall in burglary incidents over the last five years. However we know we need to continue with our efforts and reducing crime continues to be our top priority. With the communities help we can continue to build on these improvements and drive down burglary figures even further and make this a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons."
A force spokesman said: "Police in Hull are warning people not to falsely report burglaries in the run up to Christmas or face the consequences. In Hull officers visit every reported burglary and make an assessment as to whether a crime has taken place or not.
"All genuine reports are fully investigated. But people who fabricate the crime face a fixed penalty ticket for wasting police time."