Police are urging residents to stop sneak thieves in their tracks as figures reveal an increase in burglaries.
With the darker nights setting in, officers say the perception of becoming a victim intensifies.
Overwhelmingly, the majority of burglaries have been carried out by opportunists who have been able to get into homes through unlocked doors.Chief Inspector Lee Gosling
However, while there has been an increase in the number of burglaries across South Tyneside and Sunderland – partly due to a new way in which crime is recorded – the number has started to fall in recent months. Police have also arrested more than 250 burglars in the past year, but of the offences reported, police say the vast majority of criminals were able to gain access through an unlocked door or open window.
Now, residents are being urged to ensure their doors remain locked – even when they’re at home.
Keys should also be taken out of locks and placed in a safe place and not left where they can be seen through windows and letterboxes.
Last year there were 539 house burglaries across the South Tyneside and Sunderland between March 31 and April 1, this rose to 689 this year – an increase of 29 per cent. However, the recent year-end figures also includes break-ins to sheds, garages and outbuildings. These would have previously been recorded as burglary other than dwelling.
In the past six weeks there has been a 26 per cent decrease in burglaries compared to the previous six weeks.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Gosling said: “There is an increased perception with the darker nights that burglaries increase.
“Overwhelmingly, the majority of burglaries have been carried out by opportunists who have been able to get into homes through unlocked doors.
“It is very rare we will come across a forced break-in. This is the message we would like to get across.”
He added: “People can help themselves to reduce the chances of becoming a victim by simply locking their doors.”
He also encouraged family members and neighbours to look out for one another – in particular those living next to elderly or vulnerable residents.
Det Chf Insp Gosling added: “If you become aware of suspicious activity and have concerns that someone may be trying doors, let us know so we can take the appropriate steps.
“It is great letting people know through social media, but let us know too by calling 101.
“We can all play our part in reducing the risk of becoming a victim of a burglary by taking crime-prevention steps and by being our eyes and ears within the community.”
Police can be contacted on 101.
For crime-prevention advice, visit www.northumbria.police.uk