Residents and businesses have been told they could be the key on helping bring sneak thieves to justice as they target back lanes and yards.
Northumbria Police have encouraged the communities of Roker and Fulwell to be vigilant following reports that opportunistic thieves have been targeting gardens of properties.
Over the last few weeks, officers have been made aware of suspicious scrap vans being driven around estates with occupants believed to be eyeing a quick win after they were alerted by calls.
On some occasions, men have been standing on the roof of the moving vans to peer into gardens or back yards looking for valuable items that have been left outside.
On Thursday, January 17, police were called to an incident in Cardwell Street which saw individuals climb into the rear yard of an address without permission and steal a quantity of scrap metal.
The offenders were confronted by a neighbour, but left the scene with the stolen property.
On the same day, police received a similar report involving an attempted theft of a boiler which had been left outside a property on Sea View Gardens.
One man jumped over the back wall of the premises and attempted to pass the boiler over the fence to a second male who was stood on the back of a truck in a rear lane.
The occupant noticed and confronted the individuals, who left empty-handed.
Then in the early hours of Friday, police received a report that a man had climbed onto the roof of a house on Bright Street and stolen a quantity of lead.
Pc Sarah Mclaren said: “We are aware of this activity and we will continue to investigate each incident reported to us and look to bring offenders to justice.
“We have already spoken to a number of individuals in connection with our enquiries and one man has been issued with a summons to appear before court on a future date charged with using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.
“I would like to make the public aware that thieves are often on the lookout for easy targets, and I would urge residents to ensure valuables are not left unattended or insecure in the back gardens or yards of properties.
“We will continue to patrol areas of Roker and Fulwell to look out for any suspicious behaviour and offer reassurance to the public, and we would also ask anybody who has any photographs of these vans to get in touch with police.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 101. Photographs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.