Trapping burglars with technology

High-tech equipment, including 'trap houses' fitted with hidden cameras and tagged property, is being used

by police to catch burglars thanks to a £2 million cash boost Home Office Minister Alan Campbell has announced.

The money from the Securing Homes programme was allocated to 16 forces across the country to buy technology to improve burglary detection. Some of the items purchased by forces included automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems, tracking equipment, forensic scanners, intruder alarms, CCTV and property marking kits.

Some forces have used the funding to set up 'trap houses' and 'trap vehicles'. These are used in areas which police believe are being targeted by burglars. When criminals break into the property or vehicle, they could be recorded by hidden cameras or any items taken may be remote tagged or marked with ultraviolet inks allowing police to quickly track it down and make arrests.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:

"Burglary has fallen by 54 per cent since 1997 and these are encouraging signs that our pro-active approach to crimes like burglary is having an impact. However, we can still do more and this funding is just one part of a wider strategy to ensure this downward trend continues.

"This new equipment will not only help police catch the criminals who harm communities, it will help prevent crime as well. Once burglars realise the home they're breaking into might be covered by hidden cameras they might start to think twice.

"Alongside this funding we are securing 60,000 homes across the country against burglary and through our Vigilance Programme are tightening the net on known offenders in 35 areas."

Forces are already seeing results thanks to the new equipment. As part of Operation Breaker in Oxford, prolific burglar Jason Medlicott, 35, of Croft Road, Marston was jailed for two years and nine months after being caught breaking into a 'trap room' set up in halls of residence at a university in Oxford. Medlicott initially denied the offence but when officers showed him the video footage he admitted the offence in full.

Detective Superintendent Barry Halliday of Thames Valley Police said:

"This is just one example of how this type of offence is now being investigated. The use of technology supported by methodical detailed investigations not only secures evidence in relation to the one offence, but often leads to other similar offences and those who benefit from burglary being detected and brought to justice."

Acting Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police Andy Taylor said:

"Operation Breaker highlights the significant impact this type of activity is having on our ability to continue to improve our performance around burglary detections and build on our significant reductions for this type of offence."

In addition to 'trap house' facilities, Thames Valley Police has increased the number of traffic cameras across its jurisdiction which is linked to its ANPR system 24 hours a day. This makes it even easier for suspect vehicles to be spotted and flagged to police.

Source: © Home Office

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