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26 March 2010, 05:55
Oxfordshire's police say domestic burglaries have dropped 15% since they started using 'trap houses' to catch criminals in the act.
CCTV and other recording devices are placed within unoccupied homes.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Thompson has seen a home burgled within days of being set up: "I got the call saying it's been hit. We identified the offender fairly quickly and made the arrest. Initially, where it came across the offender was denying all knowledge of the offence, on being shown the image he had no option but to admit the crime."
Prolific house breakerr Jason Medlicott was snared by a House Trap, as he broke into a university dormitory in Oxford. Hidden cameras filmed him stealing a laptop. Medlicott was well known to police and easily identifiable from the hidden camera images. He was given a jail sentence of 2 years and 9 months.
The Thames Valley initiative has been funded by the Government's Securing Homes programme, where £2million has been allocated to 16 forces across the country to buy technology to improve burglary detection.
A number of forces are already operating trap houses, and others are actively considerding adopting the technique.