Action to deal with Doncaster burglary hotspot: Police column

We’ve seen the number of house burglaries falling in Doncaster recently – but there is one area that has recently been a hot spot, writes Det Ch Insp Steve Handley.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 8:40 am
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 11:33 am

We keep a close eye on the types and nature of offences being committed and from January to May we’ve seen a month on month fall in residential burglaries across the borough. The challenge is to maintain those reduced levels.

There is a certain type of criminal that steals property, and sometimes you get a perfect storm, when certain people come out of prison and re-offend. Some come out of prison and don’t re-offend. Some are released and don’t commit crime initially, but later return when former associates are also released.

We work to put in place things that deviate people away from crime, whether that is through individuals or organised crime groups.

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Stock - House Robber / Burglar / burglary / break in
Stock - House Robber / Burglar / burglary / break in

We allocate burglary investigations to a local team so that we can see any local patterns, and that means we can identify high crime areas and take action.

For instance, recently we have seen a greater incidence of burglaries in Wheatley and Intake over the past weeks, and we’ve put on a number of patrols in the area to try to help. Where appropriate, we are using stop and search, stopping offending with a physical presence there. Also, offender management teams will go and visit the criminal fraternity who have been involved in the past.

Also, we are now rolling out Operation Shield in Wheatley and Intake, so officers are going out to mark residents’ property with Smartwater, a chemical that provides a unique mark that will link items with a specific address. It then makes it easy to trace if it is stolen. It shows up under ultraviolet light.

We have however seen a rise in commercial burglaries in the town centre. Patrols have been increased to provide more visibility.

Insp Lynne Lancaster and PCSO Roy Turton, with a poster for Operation Shield and a smartwater kit

We aware of groups of people who might be on licensed released from prison, or covered by a community order. We will meet people to make sure we warn them against criminal behaviour.

We arrested three people recently over commercial burglaries, include a 17-year-old. They have been charged and remanded in custody.

We don’t think the rise is down to one person, but we are confident of reducing it. Businesses are the lifeblood of the town centre, and we want to do all we can to help them.

Some of the break-ins have seen people stealing only food or milk from the fridges.

Meanwhile, South Yorkshire was recently given money to set up a violent crime unit, which is being sent out on a daily basis to areas of need in the county. This is bringing a considerable number of officers to Doncaster on a regular basis, with three sergeants and 21 constables.

We are planning to use the team around the night time economy in the town centre, and to use drugs dogs and knife arches, and stop and searches. Hopefully this presence will make people feel safer and less likely to use violence.

It will provide quick dynamic deployments that hopefully can nip problems in the bud, and can help where we identify that we have long term problems.

We have already used the unit to carry out five warrants in one day in Mexborough in connection with organised crime groups and firearms discharges.

We are seeing the benefits of this team.

Finally, we recently saw the conviction of an armed robber, James Jackson, of Crompton Avenue, Sprotbrough, aged 39, for a raid on Scawthorpe Post Office.

He was jailed for 20 years, and put on extended licence for another five years.

Sentences of that size are not given to people who have not committed horrendous crimes, and this puts out the message that if you do carry out crimes, you will be investigated by the police and put before the courts. It is a lesson for offenders, a lesson for people thinking of committing crime, and should provide assurance for the public that this sort of crime will be dealt with in a way that keeps the community safe.