Harpenden’s newest police officers faced questions from the Neighbourhood Watch members over a recent spate of burglaries in the area.

New neighbourhood sergeant Jordon Fox and Det Insp Alex Warwick took questions from an audience of nearly 100, which included their new boss Chief Insp Stuart Cheek.

The first questioner asked whether anything was going to be done about street lights turning off at midnight. However the moderator Clennel Collingwood said this was a county council matter and he would have to speak to his councillor.

Another audience member asked why they never saw police officers walking about in Harpenden, to which Sgt Fox responded: “The plan is to be visible, but there are emergencies.

“If you do not see the police community support officers you need to tell me as they should be out daily. Officers should be patrolling burglary hotspots, but you will not see them on the streets. We need to go where the trends are as we do not have an enormous amount of resources.”

Another audience member asked how to make their home look as though no-one wants to burgle it, to which Sgt Fox replied: “If a burglar wants to get in they will.”

He advised leaving a key with a trusted neighbour so they can check on your house when you are away and to not leave curtains in the same place every day.

He agreed with another audience member who said to not put on Facebook you are at an airport going on holiday.

Det Insp Warwick answered a question on whether the burglaries were opportunistic or planned by saying they will never know as those they arrest for burglary do not have to tell them. But, she reasoned, as many of them came from outside the area they would have had to have done some research.

She also said these people rarely work alone, in response to a question on whether the burglars were working in gangs.

The possibility of more CCTV was raised by one attendee, however Harpenden town mayor Rosemary Farmer said it was extremely expensive for the council to run, however Neighbourhood Watch liaison officer Derek Sweeney said individuals could buy systems from the Online Watch Link website.

Sgt Fox said damage on the Nickey Line had been raised to him and the lack of street signs was a priority.