Landlords are being advised to remove boilers and radiators from empty homes to deter thieves.
According to police, burglars have been targeting vacant properties, especially in Hetton and Houghton, for scrap.
Overall though, figures showed a ‘dramatic fall’ in the number of homes being broken into, as well as convictions for four ‘very active’ burglars.
“It seems to be a trend here that if somewhere is empty or has a for let sign, they’re burgled,” Inspector Nick Gjorven told last week’s meeting of the Coalfield Area Committee.
“I’ve been working with the leading [estate] agents, saying if a place is going to be empty for a length of time, it’s worth taking the boilers and radiators out.
“I’m going to try and find some means where that’s fed into us so we can do something about it.”
Inspector Gjorven added thefts of items such as radiators and boilers didn’t just have the potential to hit landlords in the pocket – their removal could also cause flooding in neighbouring homes, especially if they’re taken from a flat.
According to figures provided for the committee, the number of ‘dwelling’ burglaries fell by 19, from 283 to 264, in the 12 months to March 15, compared to the previous year.
Insp Gjorven said this was partly due to ‘intelligence driven patrols’ in areas such as the Racecourse estate.
However, there was also an increase in the number of ‘Burglary Other than Dwelling’, which rose by 61.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service