South Devon burglary figures slashed after Operation Reindeer
HOMES in South Devon are among the least likely in the country to be burgled.
Police are celebrating the success of a pre-Christmas crackdown on theft called Operation Reindeer.
It saw a 60 per cent drop in house break-ins during December in Torbay.
Traditionally the busiest time of year, the month actually saw the lowest number of break-ins all year.
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Police say the situation has improved after the successful arrests and recent imprisonment of prolific burglars Ben Fone, Lee Bridge and Edward Mclear.
Over the last year local detectives have worked with their partners in probation to recall to prison targeted individuals who are caught re-offending.
Detectives are throwing more resources at the problem of house burglaries by allocating more officers and reviewing all offences since April 2012.
And police say they want to thank the public and the Herald Express for helping drive down crime.
Operation Reindeer started in South Devon but because of its success over Christmas it turned into a force-wide burglary initiative.
It has worked together with a second police project, Operation Brixton, to gather information from people operating in the world of crime in South Devon.
That operation included the weekly Herald Express Swag Bag feature which helps reunite burglary victims with stolen items seized in police raids.
The head of South Devon CID, Det Insp Nick Wilden, said:
"We particularly want to thank the Herald Express because of the success of the Swag Bag feature.
"We are getting great feedback from the public and there is a real community feel around this issue now.
"There is a national trend for burglaries to reduce but certainly not in these numbers. Because we have been so successful at bringing down burglaries, we believe criminals are turning to shoplifting.
"Serious acquisitive theft figures have turned out to be the lowest for the year when traditionally it's the highest. In fact the figure dropped to 50 offences in the whole of South Devon for the whole month, which was the lowest in the year.
"This is one of the least likely places in the country to be burgled at the moment.
"The success of the operation has come about by working together with the public. Also we have been targeting individuals.
"We also want to thank Torbay Council and all the partner agencies who have been involved.
"People are being more vigilant and there is pressure from every angle on offenders.
"It's a perfect storm in reverse."
Acting Det Insp Chris Yarwood said: "We want to thank the public because people have listened. They clearly have made efforts to secure windows and lock doors and that helped us.
"Insecure homes have been, and still are, a real issue. Burglars freely admit that they will try 100 doors rather than risk breaking in.
"When one burglar is sent to prison or recalled to prison it will prevent literally dozens of other offences."
Det Sgt Chris Tapley said: "They are good figures. We have enhanced our processes by working together with the probation Turnaround Team so that we arrest re-offenders and lock them up as soon as they are in breach of their order."