Research by the security company SECOM Plc found that between September 2020 and August 2021 four out of five Bedfordshire burglary investigations were closed without a suspect.
The company said the data highlights the extreme difficulty police face when recovering evidence for this crime and that more needs to be done to secure convictions for burglaries in the UK.
During the course of their research, SECOM found that Bedfordshire Police was the police force with the highest rate of unnamed burglars in the country – with 82% of investigations not identifying a suspect.
This was closely followed by Merseyside Police (81%), South Yorkshire Police (80%), Cambridgeshire Constabulary (80%), Lincolnshire Police (78%) and Surrey Police (78%).
As the darker nights draw in, SECOM director Alan Blake says it’s important that Bedfordshire homeowners take steps to protect their homes:
“New research from Aviva finds 60% of UK residents are planning to leave their homes for seasonal events. This puts their homes in a potentially vulnerable position.
“Double checking windows and doors before you leave, as well as arming your security system and installing CCTV, will deter criminals and help police gather evidence if the worst should happen.”
As well as uncovering rates of unidentified burglars, the data also revealed which police forces dealt with the most burglaries. The Metropolitan Police topped the list, with over 55,000 recorded burglaries between September 2020 and August 2021.
This was followed by West Yorkshire Police, West Midlands Police and South Yorkshire Police.
Detective Sergeant Gemma Pugh, from Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated burglary team said:
“Although we recognise that improvement is needed locally, with the national average of unidentified burglars at around 77 per cent, this is a challenge that every county faces and our dedicated team are working hard to make strides in this.
“Over the past year we have seen reports of house burglaries in Bedfordshire decrease by 34 per cent, with recorded burglaries reaching their lowest ever levels in the county in July.
“We know that burglary can have a devastating impact on the victim and my team work really hard to bring offenders to justice. Since January 2021 we have charged and taken 48 people to court for burglary related offences.
“There are always challenges when investigating burglaries, but when it comes to investigating a residential burglary there can be less evidential opportunities available then compared to investigating other types of burglaries.
“This is because there aren’t always CCTV opportunities, there can be limited witnesses due to the reduced footfall at the time of day and offenders often disguise their appearance to protect their identity and reduce the chance of forensics.
“Our team work closely with other departments in the force such as community teams, response and offender management to ensure that active nominals are monitored and managed across the force.
“The force are also investing in the dedicated burglary team by increasing resources which will continue the team’s work in identifying long-term crime hotspots, short-term spikes and key offending patterns, as well as investigating offences and carrying out disruptive tactics against known burglars.
“As we enter the winter months we have recently sent out letters with advice and reassurance to those areas most affected by crime and our community teams will be working with their local areas to share advice as well, but would urge all residents to remain vigilant.”
Bedfordshire Police has the following tips to help make your home safer:
- Use your lights at home – keep them on a timer when you are out so it looks like someone is home
- Make sure all doors on your house and vehicle are securely locked at all times. If you have a UPVC door at home, make sure it is double locked
- Keep all valuables and keys safely out of sight from windows, both in your home and car. Close curtains with a light on indoors
- Never leave garages or sheds unlocked – not only can valuable tools be appealing to thieves, they can also be used to force entry to your home
- Don’t hide your keys under a doormat or in a flowerpot – it’s the first place a would-be offender will look
- Ask a friend to keep an eye on your house when you go away, and do the same for neighbours by remaining alert to suspicious activity in your street
- If you spot someone behaving suspiciously, contact police immediately
- Don’t forget to security mark your property and register it on www.immobilise.com
The Force lists more practical tips on burglary crime prevention and a home security checklist on its website.