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Warning to review your security after spate of recent break-ins around south Warwickshire

Don’t get caught out with the wrong lock, is the warning message as burglaries in the area rise and the darker evenings give thieves more opportunities.

Locksmith Dan Stephens has worked around the Stratford district for the last seven years, he said the recent rise, which has included 34 domestic burglaries so far this month, had been predicted.

“With the lockdown the burglars were locked down as well. After restrictions lifted burglaries began to creep up and up, but it has sort of plateaued. They are still happening but it hasn’t risen as perhaps we feared although I think we may have a spike towards the end of the year.”

Police said that in recent weeks burglaries linked to car theft had been a particular problem, with car key thefts reported in Stratford, Alcester, Wellesbourne, Snitterfield and Southam. Several of the offences are being treated as linked, with most incidents occurring overnight. The offences have mainly involved offenders breaking into houses and taking keys, before stealing cars from the driveway.

High powered vehicles including VW Golfs, BMWs and Audis have been the main targets in the most recent spate of offences.

Dan said the main message to get across to householders was the need to fit proper locks.

He said: “A lot of people think that because their uPVC door has a cylinder lock with multiple points that it is secure but it isn’t. They mistakenly think they have a five-lever mortice lock, like you get on wooden front doors, and assume their uPVC door lock, that are often fitted in new houses, conform to insurance standards, which is TS007 3 star, but nine times out of ten it doesn’t.”

“Burglars simply snap the cylinder – that’s the most common way of houses are broken into nowadays.”

Worryingly the recorded burglaries are only the tip of the iceberg as the vast majority of the time householders don’t bother to report break ins.

“What happens is houses are targeted specifically various items, say car keys, and sometimes the burglars don’t find them. So people wake up in the morning and find their back door lock broken and don’t report it to the police – because what’s the point, they would have to wait in for the police all day and the scene of crimes team. So most burglaries aren’t reported.”

Warwickshire Police are also encouraging households to protect themselves from theft.

Det Sgt Sarah Wolsey from Leamington CID said: “Unfortunately this time of year we often do see a slight increase in house burglaries and vehicle crime and sadly we have had a number of car key burglaries reported to us in the south of the county recently.

“We understand the distress and inconvenience that these offences can cause to victims, and we are doing all we can to prevent and investigate these crimes. Officers routinely patrol these areas and there has already been and will continue to be increased patrols in the area over coming weeks.

“Taking a few crime prevention measures can help to make a difference in vehicles being targeted. While we are doing all we can to catch those responsible, we would also ask for the public’s help to make it even more difficult for offenders. And if you do see any suspicious behaviour, please report it to us.”

We would encourage people to be vigilant with their home and vehicle security, and to note the following security advice:

  • A well-lit home gives the impression someone is in.
  • Keep your keys/key fob and valuables out of sight.
  • Always ensure doors and windows are locked and if you have a home alarm, set it when you go out and when you go to bed.
  • Fit a high quality alarm to your vehicle. And use additional security systems such as immobilisers and visible security locks.
  • Lock your garden gates and side entrances. Don’t leave tools lying around in the garden that could be used to break in to your home. If you have gates on your property, keep them locked where possible.
  • Install security lights.
  • In cold weather, do not leave your engine running while you wait inside for the windscreen to defrost. And always take keys with you when leaving the vehicle unattended.

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