CASH reclaimed from criminals has been used to help fight crime.
Some £600 recovered using the Proceeds of Crime Act (Poca) is being used by Durham Police to buy alarms and shed fixings which could stop opportunist thieves in their tracks.
Sergeant Tracey Whelan, of the East Durham Safer Neighbourhood Unit, said: “We have made great strides in reducing shed burglaries across the east locality, but there tends to be a rise in the number of sheds and outbuildings broken into during the summer months.”
Shotton Colliery, Horden, and Deneside in Seaham have recently been targeted by thieves.
Sgt Whelan said: “We have seen instances where sheds have been secured with good padlocks, but thieves have gone to great lengths to unscrew and remove the screws from the door hinges hence the purchase of a quantity of non-returnable screws.
“Also, we know the use of alarms prevents crime.
“During the last couple of months, we have seen positive results where thieves have been deterred by the use of shed alarms we have previously given to victims of crime.”
Superintendent Kerrin Smith said: “Many of the decent people I speak to are totally appalled when they see criminals driving around in flash cars and living off the proceeds of crime.
“I would urge you to contact the police or the independent charity Crimestoppers if you have any information about the criminal activities of such people. That way, we can ensure crime doesn’t pay.
“By seizing money from such criminals and re-investing it into our communities, we can all do something to make our communities safer.
“Using Poca legislation, we have been able to fund crime prevention equipment for East Durham to help people protect themselves against burglars.”
Money and other assets seized under Poca are forwarded to the Home Office, which re-distributes them to criminal justice agencies, to use to fight crime or for community initiatives.
Some cash was recently used to buy a new strip for Shotton Colts football team, sponsored by the force’s Operation Sledgehammer.
Among those to benefit from the shed alarms are Stephen and Susan Williams, both 43, of Lilac Terrace in Shotton Colliery.
A bike belonging to Walkers Crisp factory worker Stephen was taken from their shed.
Susan, who works as a hairdresser and is mum to the couple’s children Rachel, 19, and Louise, 16, said: “We found the door of the shed open and they’d taken the hinges off.
“I’m still a bit anxious people might be in the back garden. But it’s good to know the shed is more secure now.”