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In just a few weeks 34 flats and student houses across Bournemouth have been burgled, with many of the crimes occurring as a result of communal entrances and front doors being left unlocked.
Twelve flats in the Boscombe and East Cliff areas have been broken into since Christmas Day.
In some cases the burglar has entered a block of flats through an insecure communal entrance. Once inside the block, the offender has gained entry to an individual flat by forcing open a front door or through an unlocked front door.
Items stolen include laptops, games consoles, jewellery and cash.
Inspector Michael Mullen, who is leading the investigation into the burglaries, said: “We are actively targeting burglars and we will do all we can to ensure that offenders are brought to justice. However, I am concerned that people are not taking basic steps to protect their homes.
“I’d urge homeowners to keep their front door locked at all times.
“If you live in a block of flats that has a communal entrance, lock it when you leave and after you enter the block.
“Be careful not to let people you don’t know into the building. Burglars can easily get into buildings by simply following residents through the door. You should also be mindful not to grant entry to people via an entry phone system, if you do not know them.”
In Charminster, 22 homes, a majority of them student houses and flats, have been broken into since 1 December 2010.
In a majority of cases, the burglar has accessed the property through an insecure front door or has forced the front door. In some cases, the offender has gained access through smashing a window.
Small electrical items, jewellery and cash have been stolen.
Inspector Mullen continued: “We’re working very hard to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes.
“We’re carrying out enhanced high-visibility and undercover patrols and issuing crime prevention advice to residents, but we need the help of the public where crimes are preventable in the first place.”
Dorset Police is issuing the following advice to homeowners:
Make sure you lock doors, windows and gates even when you are home. Lock your sheds and garages too.
Check that the garden is clear of objects that can be used to smash doors and windows, and remove anything that aids climbing. Also lock bicycles.
Do not leave bags, purses, keys or valuables on view near doors and windows. Laptops, games consoles and satnavs should be hidden from view.
Two men, aged 36 and 38, from Bournemouth were arrested on suspicion of burglary on Friday 7 January 2011. The men have been bailed pending further police enquiries.
If a crime is taking place please dial 999 and report it immediately. The public can also contact Dorset Police on 01202 or 01305 22 22 22, or they can call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.