PSNI confirm ‘spike’ in Derry burglaries

Chief Inspector Alan Hutton.
Chief Inspector Alan Hutton.

A local police chief is warning people to be vigilant after it was confirmed there were almost 50 burglaries in Derry and Strabane during the month of January alone.

The PSNI have confirmed there has been a “spike” in residential burglaries locally over recent months, amid fears that criminal gangs are operating across the north west.

Councillor Angela Dobbins

Councillor Angela Dobbins

A total of 37 homes and a further nine business and community premises were targeted by burglars during January.

Meanwhile, figures just released show that over the past year, to the start of February 2018, burglars have targeted 273 homes within the Derry & Strabane region.

There were a further 98 burglaries targeting business and community properties over the year across the city and district.

Police have said they are following all lines of enquiry in relation to the crimes.

Chief Inspector Alan Hutton from Derry City & Strabane District told the ‘Journal’ yesterday: “Although there has been an increase in the number of residential burglaries in the city this year, information from the community in recent weeks has led to arrests.

“In recent days we have seen burglars arrested and brought before the courts quite simply as a result of the public phoning in suspicious behaviour that enabled our officers to catch those involved.

“Working together with the community and partners we have seen a significant reduction in burglaries in Derry City & Strabane over the past five years, however, in recent months there has been a spike in burglaries. We need to work together to tackle this.

“We will continue with our regular anti-burglary patrols and are encouraging everyone to report suspicious activity to us – no matter how insignificant it may seem, the report of a suspicious vehicle or people acting strangely in your neighbourhood can help us to prevent and detect crime.

“We would like all of you to help us spread the message.”

Chief Inspector Hutton added: “Talk to your family and neighbours about the top 10 tips and the simple measures you can take to make your home more secure. Domestic burglary has been and will remain a priority for us.

“If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 101.”

Speaking after meeting with PSNI representatives over the issue, SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins urged residents to be vigilant following a number of recent burglaries in the Culmore area.

“I would urge everyone out there not to leave anything to chance. These burglaries occurred during the early evening and the homes pilfered for small items such as jewellery and money.

“These heartless thugs have little or no regard for the people they target or the hurt they cause,” she said.

The PSNI ten tips are:

1. Close and lock all doors and windows even if you are only going out for a few minutes.

2. Leave a light on if it will be dark before you get home. To a burglar a dark house is an empty house.

3. Keep valuables out of sight.

4. Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away.

5. Don’t leave car keys near a door, letterbox or windows.

6. Always check who is at the door. Not sure? Don’t open the door.

7. Set the alarm when going out, or consider installing one.

8. Ask a neighbour or a friend to check your property and to remove post.

9. Inform police if your house will be vacant.

10. Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked and secure ladders.