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23 April 2015, 06:48
Police in Norfolk and Suffolk are linking 80 burglaries that happened in the last six months.
It's believed 68 that have taken place in Suffolk and 12 in South Norfolk since November were all committed by the same person or group of people.
Detectives are appealing to local communities to help them put an end to a series of 80 burglaries across Suffolk and south Norfolk by launching the 'See it, Hear it, Report it' campaign.
The campaign is being supported by a retired couple from a village near Bury St Edmunds, who were victims of a burglary at the start of this year and have spoken about the effect it had on them.
The offences have mainly taken place in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk districts, with St Edmundsbury and Suffolk Coastal the other areas most affected. They're being linked due to the similarities in their nature and forensic evidence that has been obtained from the crime scenes. The typical features of these break-ins is that they occur in rural areas, usually in the afternoon or early evening, involve forced entry to the property and with jewellery the main target for the criminals.
Although officers are following a number of leads in pursuit of the burglars, police are appealing for local communities to be on the look-out for any suspicious behaviour in their villages and not to disregard persons or vehicles that appear unusual or out of place.
As the majority of the burglaries in this series involve houses being entered by force rather than because of insecurities, detectives are asking people to be their 'eyes and ears' and help catch those responsible for these crimes.
The 'See it, Hear it, Report it' campaign runs alongside the well-known burglary prevention message 'Close it, Lock it, Check it', but places an extra emphasis on the importance of community intelligence in providing crucial leads to apprehend the offenders.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are a vital element of the local intelligence picture, and residents are encouraged to join their local scheme if one exists, or set one up if their village or community does not have one.
Members of the public can also sign-up to the Police Connect messaging service, which will provide them with direct updates by phone or email about crime in their area. Further information can be found on the Suffolk Constabulary website www.suffolk.police.uk
Detective Inspector Nick Power, of Bury St Edmunds CID and who is leading Operation Domain, said: "This is an alarming amount of burglaries, causing misery and distress to a vast number of individuals and families across Suffolk and also into Norfolk.
"We gather forensic evidence at every crime scene and have several lines of enquiry that we are pursuing in relation to these burglaries, but the vital key to catching these criminals could be provided by a member of the public calling us with information about something they have seen and believe to be suspicious.
"My direct appeal to local communities is to not just ignore something you see or hear that seems out of place. This could include a suspicious vehicle outside your neighbour's house or hearing the sound of glass smashing nearby.
"Note down the car registration number or description of any suspicious persons you may have seen and report it to us if you believe it to be unusual. These criminals may present themselves as genuine callers, so if their behaviour seems odd then let us know."
"I would also urge people to get involved with Neighbourhood Watch as this is a vital resource for preventing crime and helps to foster community relations. The mere presence of Neighbourhood Watch signs are known to act as a deterrent to criminals, as they are a strong warning that they are entering an area where people look out for one another."
Two victims of an Operation Domain break-in, a retired couple from Barrow whose home was burgled earlier in the year, have spoken out about the impact the burglary had on them, saying: "On one day in January we left our home in the morning with all doors and windows closed and locked, the side gates bolted and the garage locked.
"On returning home in the afternoon, the front of the house appeared as normal, but a huge shock awaited. We found that the French doors to the lounge had been forced open and the bolts broken. We went upstairs and stood looking in utter disbelief for a minute or two and then dialled 999. We saw the drawers in our bedroom had been pulled out and the contents strewn over the bed and floor. Likewise wardrobe doors were open and the contents thrown down. The other bedrooms had also been searched and wardrobe doors and drawers opened.
"In our bedroom small jewellery boxes containing earrings and chains had been emptied, then thrown down. Some costume jewellery had been discarded and thrown down too. Several missing items were particularly upsetting being of sentimental value. One was my wife's gold chain, the last major gift of her late mother some thirty years ago and also there were earrings and brooch presents from my late sister.
"The police arrived very quickly. We were much impressed by their response then and on subsequent visits. Intruders had apparently climbed over a neighbouring fence to the rear of our property.
"That evening we surveyed our bedroom and realised it would take time to return it to order. We, therefore, went to the spare bedroom and used the room for a week before we could bring ourselves to go back to our room. We felt we did not wish to use our bed cover again even if it were washed and therefore purchased a new one.
"Despite the fact that everywhere was locked we find ourselves checking and rechecking before leaving the house. We take a rational view of the event but we still find ourselves constantly watching for any sign of disturbance when we come in. Worst of all is the sense of the invasion of privacy."