Burglaries plunge following police action in crime-hit suburbs

Smart work: Police have slashed burglaries by marking property
Smart work: Police have slashed burglaries by marking property
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Burglary rates in the Sheffield suburb worst affected by criminals wanting money for drugs have been cut by 43 per cent as a result of a specialist police operation, new statistics reveal.

Similar tactics have also proved highly successful in four areas of Doncaster blighted by similar problems.

South Yorkshire Police have become increasingly expert in analysing crime patterns and identified Gleadless as the worst area in Sheffield for burglaries, and other serious crimes to generate money, which were put down to drug users needing cash for their habit.

In Doncaster, Mexborough, Edlington, Hexthorpe and Balby were all identified as having similar problems, prompting police to launch Operation Shield, which has involved officers visiting hundreds of homes to mark property with Smartwater, a liquid which leaves a traceable ‘fingerprint’, meaning stolen property can be identified.

That makes it much more likely those involved in the crime, or handling stolen property afterwards, will also be caught – creating a significant deterrent effect.

The result in Sheffield is a 43 per cent reduction in burglaries in that area, with Doncaster recording a 37 per cent fall, with the figures measured over seven weeks and compared to the same dates last year.

Details of the operation were presented to South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, at a public accountability board meeting, which are used to monitor police performance.

A report by police said: “Since we launched the initiative; we have forensically marked hundreds of homes across Sheffield and Doncaster.

“Early results are encouraging.

“Burglary is a highly intrusive crime and can have a profound impact on victims; they often feel frightened and unsettled by what has happened and we hope Operation Shield will make people feel more confident that their property and homes are protected.”

The meeting also heard that police continue to treat burglaries as a highly serious crime, which always merit thorough investigation.

Statistics for burglaries have risen in the last few years in what has been a national trend, but part of that is regarded as an artificial change, because any break-in on a domestic ‘footprint’, meaning sheds and garages, are now categorised as a domestic burglary where in the past they were counted as a separate offence.