A renewed police operation to reduce the number of burglaries in Northern Ireland has resulted in a 37 per cent decrease in reported incidents.
Operation Cordella was mounted across Northern Ireland between 26 September and 9 October. This was a follow-up to an earlier campaign last February and March.
Figures show a 37 per cent drop in overall domestic burglary from 281 last year to 177 this year. The number of domestic burglaries affecting people over 60 years of age dropped by 13.9 per cent from 65 last year to 56 this year.
During the two-week operation, police arrested 42 suspects and conducted 27 searches. A total of 64 charges or reports to the Public Prosecution Service resulted from police investigations over this period.
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 fortnight.
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.
Criminal justice outcomes during the two weeks increased by 15.7 per cent, rising from 11.4 per cent last year to 27.1 per cent this year. Outcomes include a charge or summons, a caution or community resolutions (previously discretionary disposals). In the over 60 victim age group, outcomes increased by 11.9 per cent from 7.7 per cent to 19.6 per cent.
Provisional figures indicate there have been 8,042 burglaries, at both domestic and business premises, in the period between 1 September 2015 and end of August 2016. This is a decrease of 11.7 per cent on the same period the previous year when 9,110 burglaries were recorded.
The number of domestic burglaries for the period 1 September 2015 – end August 2016 is provisionally recorded as 5,405 which is a 9.7 per cent decrease on the same period the previous year when 5,985 domestic burglaries were reported.
The number of non-domestic burglaries for the period 1 September 2015 – end August 2016 is provisionally 2,637 which is a 15.6 per cent decrease on the 3,125 total for the same period the previous year.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, PSNI lead for burglary, said: “Our focused period of enforcement activity has once again reduced the incidence of burglaries. Indeed, over the last two years domestic burglaries have shown a downwards trend. Non domestic burglaries have also been decreasing over that period.
“While this is welcome news and evidence of effective police activity, 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.
“One example is the Nominated Neighbour Scheme: if a caller arrives when you are alone in the house, they can be shown a card instructing them to contact your ‘Nominated Neighbour’, who will then try and check the caller’s identity avoiding the need for you to open your front door. The forms can be downloaded from our website www.psni.police.uk or people can contact a local officer who will provide them free of charge.
“Burglaries are a violation of people’s personal space and cherished possessions. Our higher profile in communities, making sure any burglary hotspots receive increased attention, has been effective. For those individuals who have been charged, a conviction will lead to serious consequences. Despite pressures on our resources, we will continue to look at how we can extend such operations to achieve maximum benefit.”
T/Chief Superintendent Walls renewed his appeal 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.
T/Chief 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 outcome rate for all burglaries is running at 10.4 per cent which is a slight decrease (0.3 per cent) on last year. This is slightly disappointing but we will continue to work to improve this outcome rate through a combination of focused patrolling, prevention activity and rigorous investigative action. ”