Police Link Burglaries Across Chichester

Detectives are investigating a series of burglaries that have taken place across Chichester and Arun in recent months.

Most recently, thieves broke into properties in Almodington and Highleigh last Wednesday night (28 March) and stole numerous items including phones, money, computers and laptops. 

The burglaries started last October in Chichester district when two offences took place in Runcton and Sidlesham Common; a further two occurred the following month in Runcton and Donnington. Since then, the number of offences has continued to grow - and expand into Arun - and so far over 50 have been linked under the enquiry name of Operation Etna. 

Detective Sergeant Michelle Auger, who is leading the investigation, said: "Burglaries have taken place in numerous locations across the Chichester and Arun districts, including Climping, Aldingbourne, Bosham, Fishbourne, Bury, Duncton, Selsey, Patching and Hunston. 

"The majority of these offences are taking place at night in rural areas and it would seem that they're happening every couple of weeks, when anything between three and six offences can occur in just one night. 

"This is an opportunity to remind home owners about the importance of security, and ensuring that all doors and windows are locked at night and when they are out. 

"We would also urge people to report anything suspicious to us; there have been occasions when home owners have thought they have heard noises downstairs but haven't reported it to police until the following day. We don't want to encourage anyone to confront offenders themselves, but the earlier potential crimes are reported to us the more likely we are to catch those responsible." 

In many of the burglaries, Apple products have been stolen including iPads and iPhones as well as money and other items such as cameras, computers, bank cards and CD players. Some of the properties that have been targeted have been left insecure, but in others the burglars have forced entry. Police are encouraging owners of Apple products to download the Find My iPhone application - which is free and works for both iPhones and iPads - as well as move property such as laptops, phones and handbags upstairs at night in a bid to prevent thefts. 

"We don't want to cause any kind of unnecessary alarm but these are simple things that people can do to prevent property being stolen," added DS Auger. 

"Detectives are working tirelessly to try and find those responsible and bring them to justice, as well as halting this series of crimes. Burglary can have a devastating effect upon its victims, particularly when they are asleep upstairs when the crimes occur, which is what has happened in many of these offences. 

"We are appealing for help from the public to gather as much information as we can. If you think you have seen something suspicious in your area at any time then please call us and let us know - it may not be linked to Operation Etna, but we would rather have people ring in with potential valuable information than not ring us at all. It may only take one call to get that crucial piece of information."

Anyone who has witnessed anything suspicious or has any information about the burglaries is asked to contact police on 101, quoting Operation Etna. Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.