DETECTIVES have issued a warning to people in Belper after a spate of burglaries.
The warning comes after an unprecedented rise in break-ins — with 19 burglaries in Amber Valley in seven days earlier this month.
Between April 1 and October 31 this year there were 40 burglaries in the Belper, Heage, Duffield, Kilburn area – an average of just 1.3 a week.
Some of the recent raids were in Belper, with homes, sheds, garages and offices among the targets.
One happened when the owners of a house on Nottingham Road went out and left their door unlocked. Thieves struck at the property between 7.30pm on Saturday, November 12, and 3.40am on Sunday, November 13.
The occupiers returned to find an Apple Mac computer and a Dell laptop had been stolen.
A police spokeswoman said: “People just think it is fine to leave doors unlocked.
“We want to highlight that this isn’t the case.”
Most of the raids are during the afternoons, while people are out at work.
Thieves have also been sneaking into homes as people leave doors unlocked, snatching items like handbags from kitchens while the occupants are elsewhere in the house.
The increase has prompted officers to warn residents to make sure expensive items, like festive gifts, are out of sight, all doors and windows are locked and they install security, including window locks.
Officers believe most of the raids are opportunist, with burglaries touring the area looking for potential properties to raid.
Sgt Richard Booth, who is head of neighbourhood policing in Belper, said: “This number of burglaries is very rare in the Amber Valley area and we will be using all available resources to tackle the issue.
“We are informing residents of these incidents in order to make sure they have the ability to upgrade their home security.
“As well as ensuring doors and windows are secured, residents should also make sure that side and garden gates are locked.
“Check all security lights are working and remember it can take just seconds for an opportunist thief to sneak-in, so even if you are in your home, make sure you close and lock unattended windows and doors.”
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“Please also think about fitting a timer to your lights. At this time of year, when it gets dark quite early, having a light on in your home can be invaluable to protecting your home.”
Police will also be increasing patrols and offering crime prevention advice to residents.
To report any suspicious behaviour, or to receive further crime prevention advice, contact police on the non-emergency number 101. To report crime anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.