A police operation to reduce the number of burglaries in Northern Ireland has resulted in a 15 per cent decrease in reported incidents.
Operation Cordella was mounted across Northern Ireland between 15 February and 13 March.
Figures show a 15 per cent drop in overall domestic burglary from 540 last year to 460 this year. The number of domestic burglaries affecting people over 60 years of age dropped by 29 per cent from 147 last year to 104 this year.
During the operation, police arrested 110 suspects, 68 of them for burglary, and conducted 173 searches of premises and people. In addition, officers checked a total of 61 business premises of interest. Checks were also made by police on 182 suspects to ensure they were adhering to their bail conditions.
A total of 42 charges were brought against individuals, seven people were reported to the Public Prosecution Service and one individual was dealt with by way of a discretionary disposal.
Officers from Districts and detectives from Reactive and Organised Crime Branch worked alongside colleagues in Tactical Support Groups and Roads Policing to raise the visible police profile against burglaries and burglars over the four-week period.
This involved mounting vehicle check points, conducting searches at premises of interest, deploying cash sniffer dogs and providing advice and information to householders and business owners on how to secure their premises.
Provisional figures indicate there have been 8,977 burglaries, at both domestic and business premises, in the period between 1 April 2015 and end of February 2016. This is an increase of 0.5 per cent on the same period the previous year when 8,930 burglaries were recorded.
The number of domestic burglaries for the period 1 April 2015 – end February 2016 is provisionally recorded as 5,988 which is a 2.6 per cent increase on the same period the previous year when 5,839 domestic burglaries were reported.
The number of non-domestic burglaries for the period 1 April 2015 – end February 2016 is provisionally 2,989 which is a 3.3 per cent decrease on the 3,091 total for the same period the previous year.
Superintendent Simon Walls, PSNI lead for burglary, said: “Our enforcement activity has reduced the incidence of burglaries but we are not complacent. We have worked to focus our resources on locations and individuals and to raise awareness in communities about how people can prevent themselves from becoming victims of crime and keep their property safe.
“As we’ve said before, burglaries are a violation of the things people hold most dear – the possessions they’ve worked hard to buy and to enjoy as well as the items of sentimental value they cherish.
“Our higher profile in communities, making sure any burglary hotspots received increased attention, has been effective. For those individuals who have been charged, a conviction will lead to serious consequences. We will now look at how we can extend such operations against a backdrop of competing and finite resources.”
Superintendent Walls again appealed to property owners not to take security for granted: “When you leave the property, make sure all the doors and windows are locked and secure and always keep your keys safe.”
Businesses can reduce the chance of being targeted by burglars by adopting some or all of the following crime prevention measures:
Strengthen potential entrances and exits – check the state of all entrances (doors, windows, skylights) to your building. Most businesses invest in securing the front of their premises but sometimes forget about the back doors, broken windows or the side door no one uses. Consider installing safety grills and deadlocks to exterior doors and windows, and installing sensory lighting. Ensure someone is responsible at the end of the day to check everything is locked. It is also worth reinforcing windows or installing window locks that cannot be reached and unlocked if the glass is broken.
Alarms – an alarm can act as an excellent deterrent. Without one, your premises will present a more attractive target for burglars than those with a system fitted. It is important that alarm systems are inspected regularly.
Stock/equipment – stock should be kept to a minimum and locked away in a secure room where possible. It is also always advisable to keep minimal cash on the premises and to keep it locked away securely in time delayed safes. You should also consider the equipment you use; if it’s valuable, make sure it is secured.
Staff – train your staff about burglary prevention and inform them about any security measures you have installed and how to correctly operate them. Explain to staff the importance of keeping a watchful eye for suspicious people or vehicles.
Superintendent Walls said: “Any measure which business people can put in place to protect their property and livelihood is a good investment. Local crime prevention officers can also be contacted for further advice. The clearance rate for all burglaries is running at 10.4 per cent which is the same as last year. We will continue to work to improve this outcome rate through a combination of focused patrolling, prevention activity and rigorous investigative action.”