Over 1,000 unsolved burglaries in St Albans district since 2015

A map of all the burglaries in St Albans district. Picture: Infogram.

A map of all the burglaries in St Albans district. Picture: Infogram. - Credit: Archant

There were nearly 2,000 unsolved burglaries in the district between April 2015 and March 2018, according to new figures.

Within that period there were 1,937 incidents where the investigation was deemed to have been completed, but no suspect was identified.

The report comes at a time of rising public concerns about the number of burglaries in the district and the Office of National Statistics revealing there was a 41 per cent increase in the number of break-ins between December 2016 and December 2017.

Harpenden Neighbourhood Watch coordinator Clennell Collingwood said: “I think the figures are concerning, but we recently had a talk from our new neighbourhood sergeant, and he looks like he is going to be a breath of fresh air.

“Hertfordshire is a relatively safe county in terms of burglaries and other crimes and we are seeing police community support officers being out in the community and conducting surgeries where people can drop-in and get advice.”

Hertfordshire has 1.65 police officers per 1,000 people in the county, higher than both Essex and Thames Valley constabularies.

Out of a total number of 2,434 burglaries, only 31 perpetrators were sent to jail and a further 20 were convicted, meaning a conviction rate of just two per cent.

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The ward with the highest number of convictions for burglaries was Harpenden West, with 10, while in several wards only one person was convicted.

Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: “Burglary is a key priority for Hertfordshire Constabulary, which is why more money has been invested this year into specialist, pro-active Operation Scorpion teams.

“These additional officers operate in plain clothes and have identified and prosecuted persistent burglars, who commit a lot of this type of crime.

“Any number of burglaries is too high, however for context there will be on average just 10 house burglaries per day across the whole of Herts, so you are highly unlikely to be a victim of this crime.

“There have been additional police officers recruited as part of this year’s budget, alongside a significant investment in our investigation teams.

“Hertfordshire also spends proportionately more on frontline policing than similar forces, and I have kept the neighbourhood policing structure in place here, which puts local policing at the heart of our strategy.”

A Herts Police spokesperson said: “Preventing burglary and arresting offenders remains a priority for officers in St Albans as we understand the terrible impact this crime has on its victims.

“Our response to burglary may not immediately result in an arrest, but everything is done to ensure all the evidence is captured and we never give up on a case.

“We utilise the full forensic toolkit available to us to build a profile of offenders.

“This includes, where possible, recovering DNA samples and other identifying material, which is kept on a database that is constantly referred to when offenders are bought into custody.

“Often, when a suspect is arrested on suspicion of committing one burglary offence they will later be forensically linked or admit to carrying out a whole host of other break-ins and we always go back to the victims to update them of this.

“In many of these unsolved burglary cases enquiries remain on-going and we work with other forces to identify offenders who may have come from outside of the area to target homes in St Albans.

“Safer neighbourhood officers work with victims of burglary to help prevent them from becoming repeat victims and officers share crime prevention advice with neighbouring residents through door-to-door enquiries.

“Our work to promote crime prevention advice among the local community never ends and we are continuously reminding residents of the simple measures they can take to make their property less appealing to thieves.”