Suffolk sees distraction burglary fall

THE number of distraction burglaries across Suffolk has fallen during the past 12 months - but police are refusing to celebrate.Bogus callers preyed on the homes of 112 elderly and vulnerable residents in the county during 2005 compared to 117 the previous year.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE number of distraction burglaries across Suffolk has fallen during the past 12 months - but police are refusing to celebrate.

Bogus callers preyed on the homes of 112 elderly and vulnerable residents in the county during 2005 compared to 117 the previous year.

However, Suffolk Constabulary said one offence is one too many and vowed to continue the fight against the offenders embroiled in this type of crime.


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Detective Inspector Richard Crabtree, who works in the force's intelligence unit at Martlesham, said: “I don't take any satisfaction in seeing a reduction at all - I want to obliterate that type of crime.

“My staff and I feel this is perhaps one of the most despicable offences because the victims are old and vulnerable and lose for them what are substantial amounts of money.

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“I would rather have none. It destroys people's lives and their confidence to interact in the community.”

Distraction burglaries are offences where criminals use tricks such as telling a homeowner they are from the gas or electricity board in order to get into homes to steal.

The highest number of distraction burglaries in Suffolk last year occurred in September when 25 were reported. The number of reports tailed off in October but jumped up again to 13 last month.

During the past 12 months, the western area of Suffolk was the worst affected with 59 distraction burglary reports.

DI Crabtree said the force was looking at every conceivable way of increasing its chances of arresting these offenders.

“We have in place new trigger plans that are spread across the force in all areas. Staff in our control rooms are aware of plans that are in place in the event of such an incident being reported,” he said.

“We have a strategy to maximise the forensic examination of the crime scene and ensure that every possible clue is obtained as we know how difficult it is to identify these people.”

David Dyble, community safety officer and chair of the Safe and Sound Group, a multi agency organisation which promotes safety in the home, said it too was doing it all it could to prevent bogus caller crime.

“It's not the number of those crimes as they are relatively few. It's the effect it has on the victim. The fear of crime is a big issue. One offence can terrify lots of residents in an area,” he said.

“Even one of those crimes is too many. It's very difficult to get hold of bogus callers because they're travelling criminals. They're forensically aware and we have a problem catching them.”

The group is giving free tickets away to performances of a production centred on the bogus caller theme.

The Trickster plays are being performed by a group of touring actors and will be taking place across the county in March.

The Safe and Sound Group is also promoting a new initiative whereby vulnerable people nominate a neighbour to do the talking on their behalf when they are visited by doorstep callers.

Vulnerable people can place a card outside their homes with the name and number of their nominated neighbour, which will direct callers to them as a first point of contact.

n The East Anglian Daily Times re-launched our Safe In Your Home campaign in May last year following a spate of distraction burglaries.

As part of the campaign, the EADT has produced advice cards to help stop people falling prey to bogus callers.

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