25% increase in burglaries across St Albans district
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An unprecedented spate of burglaries has seen the number of homes targeted across the district rise by nearly 25 per cent.
From October to December the number has increased from 78 burglaries last year to 97 across the same period in 2015.
October and November saw a particularly high increase of 34 per cent, with homes across every ward falling victim to thieves except Redbourn.
Those affected include Sue and David Edwards, who were on holiday when their home was broken into and £600 worth of damage caused.
The burglars used a piece of concrete to smash their patio doors after entering through the garden, but it wasn’t their possessions that were stolen, it was their identity.
The thieves had registered a credit card to their address in St Albans, and smashed the back door to retrieve the card and pin number before withdrawing £3,000 in a nearby cashpoint.
Sue said: “When you think about burglaries, you think about items being stolen but you never think something like this would happen so I want people to be aware that you can have your identity stolen too.”
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This is the second time that the home has been targeted in three years.
Sue went on: “I feel a bit nervous and vulnerable. I was quite upset when we came home, especially as it’s now happened twice. It leaves such a mess too, weeks on and we’re still picking up shards of glass.”
David added: “It’s not as though we’re careless, we take every precaution, but what the police told me is true, if they want to get inside, they will. You’ve just got to be extra careful with your information.”
David said that he was still trying to salvage his credit rating and warned others to be vigilant with personal documents.
While the Edwards’ burglary saw them become victims of fraud, many homes have had their possessions stolen, with items ranging from sentimental jewellery, to gaming consoles, and other electric items.
Wards hit particularly hard include St Stephen’s and Park Street which had a total of 28 burglaries.
Batchwood and Verulam were also badly affected with 22 burglaries in total.
17 burglaries in Radlett were also recorded across the same time period.
Since the beginning of October, 17 people have been arrested in connection with the burglaries.
These include three men and a woman who have been charged and remanded into custody pending further court appearances.
Six men have been charged, released on bail and are due to appear at court in the coming weeks.
Two boys and one man have pleaded guilty. The two boys have been referred to the youth offender panel and have been ordered to pay costs of £350. The man, Angel Atanasov, 48, of Edmonton, was committed to prison for eight weeks, suspended for 12 months, and has been ordered to pay costs of £585.
One man has been deported and another released on bail and is due to return to police in January.
On Sunday (6) a man was arrested and released on bail to return in a couple of weeks.
The final man was released with no further action.
Anyone with information about burglaries or any other crime in the area should call the Herts Police non-emergency number 101. Alternatively call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.