Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Burglaries in Norwich have more than doubled in a year – prompting a high-profile crackdown which has resulted in almost 30 arrests in just two months.
Latest statistics show that burglaries in Norfolk have gone up to 292 between the beginning of December last year and the end of January this year, compared to 243 over the same period last year.
But in the Norwich area there were 121 offences between December 2013 and January 31 this year compared to just 47 over the same period the year before. Burglars have predominantly targeted homes in the central and northern areas of Norwich, forcing doors and smashing windows – although in more than a quarter of incidents offenders have taken advantage of open windows and unlocked doors.
Police have launched Operation Cutlet in response to the rise in offences with a team of officers carrying out patrols in hotspots and targeting prolific offenders.
The operation has also seen numerous warnings issued for homeowners to keep windows closed and doors locked, and to call police about any suspicious behaviour.
Since the operation started, at the beginning of December 2013, 26 people have been arrested in connection with burglary, theft and going equipped offences.
Of those 13 have so far been charged and three people have been convicted, including:
• Daniel Parker, 33, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of distraction burglary in connection with incidents at Pelham Court on December 16 and Don Pratt Court on 20 December.
He also admitted one count of robbery in relation to an incident at Subway on 11 December.
When he was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court last month he asked for 24 similar offences, mainly domestic burglaries which happened in the west of Norwich, to be taken into consideration.
• Mantas Bendzius, 32, of Heathgate, Norwich, appeared at the city’s magistrates’ court on January 27 where he pleaded guilty to one count of burglary in connection with an incident at Moorland Close.
Mantas admitted breaking into the property between 12 and 16 January by smashing a conservatory glass door and stealing jewellery and watches worth £700. He was jailed for six months.
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Superintendent Dave Marshall, Norwich policing commander, said: “We’ve taken a number of measures to help reduce incidents and this appears to be paying off with reports of break-ins averaging to one every other day, which is the level we would expect to see at this time of year.
“Householders can also help by protecting their homes. In a handful of incidents, front and back doors have been left unlocked by mistake, so it is worth getting into the habit of checking doors are locked before going to bed. Those few minutes could save the trauma and hours of inconvenience dealing with insurance companies and replacing stolen property.”
Supt Marshall said crime levels fluctuated throughout the year. Increases in crimes such as burglary were affected by a number of factors including prison releases and drug addictions.
He said: “We operate a scheme in Norfolk called 180° where we work with offenders on release from prison with the aim of turning their lives around and helping them stay clear of crime.
“This scheme has been very successful but there are offenders who, once out of prison, do not wish to rehabilitate and fall back into a life of crime despite interventions from police and other professionals such as health, housing and education.
“We also know a key driver in acquisitive crime is the link to drugs, with individuals of limited means turning to crime in order to fund their habits. To balance this we have been targeting people who use and supply drugs as a result of stop searches and acting on intelligence.”
From 1 December 2013 to 31 January 2014 there were 162 drug offences recorded compared to 127 for the same period the previous year.