Police have appealed for early-morning workers to keep their eyes peeled after a spate of burglaries.
Thieves have been targeting commercial promises in the centre of Chester-le-Street.
DC Joanne Days, from Chester-le-Street CID said: "We are noticing that the burglaries have been occurring very early in the morning, in the Front Street and surrounding areas at around 6am when members of the public are potentially going to work.
"The suspects are known to use spades to gain access which are often left at the scene.
"We are urging all residents to report anything that they may consider suspicious.
"If you have any information that could assist us in relation to these incidents, please call us on 101.