Thieves are burning through locks in a new tactic to break into homes in South Yorkshire, it has been revealed.
South Yorkshire Police said criminals using the new method tend to be those breaking into homes for the keys to high value cars parked outside.
The force is urging home owners to install extra smoke alarms close to their doors to alert them to anyone trying to burn their locks.
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Officers from have been visiting homes in Barnsley with valuable cars on the driveways to warn of thieves operating in the town.
Police patrols have also been stepped up following a spate of thefts of high-performance cars.
Detective Inspector Kate Leake said: “We have unfortunately seen a real spike in this type of burglary in Barnsley in recent months and I can fully appreciate how frustrating and distressing this must be for the victims experiencing this crime.
“The individuals participating in this criminality appear to be quite sophisticated in their methods, with our officers receiving numerous reports of door locks being melted or burned out – rather than your typical ‘smash and grab’ type tactics.
“I want to reassure the public that we’re taking this matter incredibly seriously and are working hard with neighbouring forces to identify the offenders and work together to stop this issue.
“We have regular patrols in affected areas and have the support of specialist colleagues from across the force to cover the road networks in and out of Barnsley.”
She added: “With that in mind, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of a two-in-one burglary.
“Review your home security, including where you keep your car keys in the evening. We absolutely do not recommend taking your keys to bed with you, as this could place you at additional risk should someone choose to break in.
“We would recommend investing in a key safe, or storing the keys somewhere out of sight and not immediately within reach of the door – try and think of somewhere a burglar wouldn’t.
“Given that the recent incidents have involved burning through locks, consider installing supplementary smoke alarms near to PVC doors that can act as an immediate warning should someone try to break into your house. These are available at minimal cost.
“We’d also suggest investing in the most simple vehicle security method – a steering wheel lock. They’re very difficult to break and are an obvious deterrent to anyone thinking of stealing your vehicle.
“If it isn’t feasible to purchase a CCTV system, consider other measures like security lighting or burglar alarms, items that would deter anyone wanting to break into your property.”
DI Leake added: “As part of our proactive patrols, we’ll be visiting houses that have valuable vehicles on the driveway and offering crime prevention advice. I would like to reassure the public that South Yorkshire Police are doing everything we can to protect the people of Barnsley and prosecute those responsible.”
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.