Lisburn Chief Inspector Derek McCamley has called on local people to be vigilant and look out for their neighbours after an increase in burglary incidents in September.
The number of incidents in Lisburn rose from 32 in August, to 54 in September, for all types of burglary, including attempted burglaries.
CI McCamley, the burglary lead for the Lisburn & Castlereagh District, has urged local people to ensure their doors and windows are locked, and their property secure after a number of incidents were “opportunistic”.
“I would really implore people to understand that if you’re going to go out, even if you’re going to nip out for just five minutes, you need to lock your doors and windows,” he said.
“A number of the burglars that operate in this area are opportunistic.
“We’re seeing that become prevalent now, in that they could be walking past the house or driving past the house and see an open window or an open door and there’s an opportunity for a thief.”
CI McCamley said that he has a ‘deep understanding’ of how burglary victims feel, having been a victim of burglary himself.
He explained: “Burglary is obviously an issue and it produces victims and they can be very traumatised.
“I have a deep understanding of how burglary victims feel, because I’ve been a victim of burglary myself,” he said.
“I recognise the trauma of being a victim of burglary, I know what it feels like.”
Explaining the types of burglaries local people should be aware of, CI McCamley commented: “There’s three types of property that they are looking for.
“The first one is easily disposable property, which is essentially cash and jewellery. So in order to combat this, we would ask members of the public, don’t keep large amounts of cash in your house.
“Secondly jewellery, we would ask that you take photographs of your jewellery, have a description of it so that we will have something to go on, because very often as we progress on investigations we are able to recover property and certainly as far as jewellery is concerned, without a photograph it’s very difficult for us to match that up again with the owner.
“The second type of property that individuals are going for are cars. Cars are very significantly advanced to what they were ten years ago, it would be almost impossible now to take a vehicle without the keys.
“So, what thieves are doing is looking in through windows, see cars keys hanging on the lock on the inside or indeed sitting on your hall table. And even if you do lock your door, they’ll throw something through your window and reach in and take it, because it’s easy and then they can get away with your car.
“We have seen relatively few of those in the month of September, thankfully, but it really is something the public need to be aware of.
“For women, keep your handbags out of sight, don’t leave it on the hall table, it’s very easy for somebody to break your window and lift your handbag.
“Then we would have a different set of thieves that would be looking for power tools. High end property like that.
“In relation to that property, we would like you to take photographs, record the serial number and we would ask if you would consider engraving your property with an identification mark or using an ultraviolet marker to mark your property.”
He added: “We need you to consider locking and securing not only your house, but also your garage and your sheds.
“Moving onto wider prevention, if you live in a particular area, you know your area. You know who is out of place, you know who is acting suspiciously.
“If an individual comes to your house and represents themselves to be from a utility company for example, there is a quickcheck number 0800 013 2290.
“Whenever we’re considering cold callers and we’re considering persons acting suspiciously, I would implore members of the public to look at the description of the individual; what are they wearing; hair colour; height. Why are they suspicious and what direction did they go in?
“If there’s a car, make, model and registration number.
“Please phone the police immediately on 101, and report that matter. I would much rather we go out and speak to 10 members of the public who are honest and genuine, than miss the one who is not, because only by working together are we going to be able to prevent the burglary issue.
“Mr Michael Green, who’s the local Crime Prevention Officer in Lisburn, is available for advice on 101.”
CI McCamley added: “I feel very passionately about this, it’s one of the reasons why I’m district lead for this crime type.
“Truly, it’s not something the police can solve alone, we need the support of others, we need people to be good neighbours.
“They know what they see, they know when people are not of the community, they know when people are acting suspiciously.”