Burglaries in Devon rise by 15% in less than 12 months

The number of burglaries in Devon has increased by 15% in less than 12 months, according to police figures.

Devon and Cornwall Police reported 2,383 burglaries during the 2010-11 financial year compared to 2,827 so far this year.

The force said people needed to be security conscious to prevent "opportunist" burglars striking.

But the Police Federation's regional chairman said losing nearly 300 officers may have had an impact.

The police figures showed the South Hams had seen the biggest increase in burglaries, from 69 to 132 in the time frame.

While the Torridge area experienced a 55% reduction in the crime, dropping from 92 incidents in 2010-11 to 59 this year.

'Easily sell'

Det Insp Nick Wilden said: "The public really need to be more vigilant, 40% of house burglaries are down to insecurity."

"Burglars are opportunists, they're looking for cash, jewellery, electrical items - something they can easily sell to make money."

Kathy Stansfield's Dartmouth property was broken into over Christmas.

She said: "When I saw the force they must have used to prise open the door they must have spent a lot of time and they knew exactly what they were doing.

"The floor was covered in papers and they'd obviously been through all the drawers."

But Nigel Rabbits, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: "I think we're possibly seeing an increase in crime because there's opportunities there, we've lost nearly 300 police officers in the last year and many of those have been experienced detectives."

However, Det Insp Wilden said the force was operating at the same level as in 2000 and had recently restructured the way the constabulary worked so it was "too early to draw any conclusions" about the number of police officers and crime levels.

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