Warning over burglaries in Sussex during coronavirus pandemic

Sussex Police has issued a warning about burglaries in Sussex during the coronavirus outbreak.

The force said it believes there could be an increase in organised acquisitive crime across the county – including burglaries of business premises – and have increased police patrols and proactive targeting of known local criminals.

They urged businesses and residents to check their premises are sufficiently protected.

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Their warning comes after two men were charged with stealing £80,000 worth of stock from Currys PC World in Hove.

Warning over burglaries in Sussex during coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sussex Police

The pair were caught after a fast-moving intelligence-led operation saw them arrested after a black Audi A4 was stopped by officers on the M23 on March 17, said police. They have been remanded in custody to re-appear in court this month.

Police also said a Hailsham man pleaded guilty to burglary in the town last month and will appear for sentencing on April 14.

Detective Chief Inspector Alasdair Henry, burglary prevention lead for Sussex Police, said: “We take burglary very seriously. Staff across the force are working hard to prevent an increase in burglary and we are ready to respond to any spikes in such criminality.

“We are urging business owners to ensure that they have sufficient and robust security features in place and that they are in full working order.

“Security cameras should be checked and owners need to make sure that any service doors are both secure and locked. Don’t store cash in premises whilst they are closed.

“Owners of high value jewellery are encouraged to ensure it is securely locked away in the house, ideally in a safe or similar secure storage, rather than being left in drawers or cupboards.

“Residents should ensure that doors to their homes are kept locked, especially overnight, but also when they might be out enjoying their gardens, and that they have measures in place to keep their residence secure.

“It is vital that we all work together to disrupt organised crime and prevent opportunistic burglaries. Our Sussex Police website provides some excellent detailed advice on how to protect your property from crime.

“Please do not hesitate to report suspicious activity to us. This includes reporting people trying to sell items that you suspect are stolen.

“If you have any information concerning burglary or people selling stolen goods please get in touch with us immediately online or by calling 101. You can also report anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

“In an emergency, such as a crime in progress, please dial 999.”

Officers are also advising residents to make sure that their valuables are secure, especially as warmer weather may well result in opportunistic crooks taking advantage of properties left insecure.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner said: “It is important to remember at this time that, whilst our police officers are having to provide support to protect the capacity of the NHS, they are still committed to protecting our communities because criminals are not staying at home.

“As many businesses have been forced to close due to the ‘lockdown’, the vacant premises are more vulnerable to being targeted by criminals seeking to make a profit from this pandemic. So, I’m urging business owners to heed the preventative advice that Sussex Police have released today and take simple measures to better protect themselves and their livelihood.

“The police are still there for us when we need them most, so if you see something suspicious or have been a victim of any crime type, please still report.”

People can find crime prevention advice for protecting your business from the inside out and keeping high value items safe at home on the Sussex Police website.

They can also keep up to date with the latest news in their police district on Sussex Police’s Community Message service.

People can also join an existing Neighbourhood Watch scheme or become a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator.