LAGAN Valley MLA and Policing Board member Jonathan Craig has said he is “appalled” by thefts from 27 houses in the Mountview Drive area of the city.

It has been reported that the houses, owned by the Ministry of Defence and currently unoccupied, were broken into and stripped of fixtures, including copper tanks, boilers and piping, in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

It was recently revealed that a number of houses in Mountview Drive were being put up for sale by the MoD, with residents expressing concern about proposals to sell the properties to a Housing Association to be used for social housing.

It is believed opportunistic thieves, knowing that a large number of the houses were vacant, ransacked the houses, sometime between 5pm on Monday December 17 and 7am on December 18.

Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig urged anyone who noticed suspicious activity to contact the police immediately.

“This was really an opportunist time for thieves who had taken advantage of the community tension and the potential sale of 36 MOD properties in Lisburn,” said Mr Craig.

“It is unfortunate that while work was being carried out by the MOD to remove graffiti no one suspected that some of the vans were unfortunately robbing the houses,” he continued.

“No one should feel guilty about reporting such activity to the PSNI even if it appears not to be genuine as it is being done through good neighbourliness and it is only through such information that the thieves who carry out such crimes can be caught and brought to justice,” concluded Mr Craig.

The police in Lisburn have also appealed for anyone with information about the thefts to contact them.

Anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area between these times or who has any information is asked to contact police in Lisburn on 0845 600 8000.

Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.