Housebreakings down, but police advise Christmas vigilance

Housebreaking can be a problem over Christmas. Picture: Steve Taylor

Housebreaking can be a problem over Christmas. Picture: Steve Taylor

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HOUSE break-ins in the Capital have dropped by 25 per cent – but police are warning people not to be complacent in the run-up to Christmas when thieves are more likely to strike.

The latest crime figures for Edinburgh show the number of domestic housebreakings fell from 974 during the six months April-September last year to 730 in the same period this year.

Divisional commander Chief Superintendent Kenny McDonald said total crime in the city was down by 8.5 per cent, with violent crimes, sex crimes, vehicle crimes, vandalism and crimes of dishonesty all falling.

But he said domestic break-ins was still the top priority for people in Edinburgh and the drop by a quarter was therefore the most pleasing aspect of the statistics.

He said: “We are also continuing to see a positive trend where the number of successful domestic housebreakings – where something is stolen – remains lower than last year at 56 per cent compared with 60 per cent.

“That says to me the crime prevention advice we are providing to the public is being listened to and acted upon. For that I wish to thank those members of the public who have attended our crime prevention events and acted on them because it really makes a difference in terms of preventing a successful housebreaking.”

But he added a seasonal warning: “The number of housebreakings tends to rise as the darker nights come in. We don’t want people to be in any way complacent that because there has been a decrease it’s not still an issue. I do believe it’s still an issue within the city. I would ask people to be vigilant as Christmas comes closer and they begin to put presents under the tree.

“It’s important people listen to the crime prevention advice to install extra lighting or purchase window locks – which are very cost-effective ways of providing additional security in your home.”

Chief Supt McDonald said there had been a dramatic 52.6 per cent drop in break-ins to vehicles – down from 745 to 353.

He said: “One of the trends we tend to see as we move into darker nights and get closer to Christmas is people unfortunately leaving items of value on visible display within a vehicle and people will then smash windows or break into cars to steal that property.

“Despite seeing a significant reduction in this area we would ask in the run-up to Christmas that people take care not to leave anything of value on display in their vehicle.”

Overall thefts of vehicles have risen from by 23.4 per cent from 529 to 653, but car thefts were down by 14.5 per cent while motorcycle thefts were up by 27 per cent.

Mr McDonald said it was now much harder to steal cars. “That has fed some of the issues we have seen in recent years with people breaking into houses more for the vehicle keys than for other property,” he said. “But there are fewer anti-theft devices fitted to motorcycles.”

The police have been targeting motorcycle thefts and related anti-social behaviour through Operation Soteria, particularly in the north of the city. “We have had some significant successes,” said Mr McDonald. “That remains an area of focus for us.”

The figures show a 2.8 per cent reduction in overall violence and a reduction of nearly 9.3 per cent in serious violence.

Chief Supt McDonald said: “Looking at violence overall, there’s still a concentration round about the city centre and licensed premises, which we expect, and dedicated patrols continue at the weekend and these patrols have been supplemented as we move towards Christmas because we know we will have more people going out for office parties and Christmas parties.”

There was an increase in fire-raisings. But Mr McDonald said it appeared to be mainly down to one individual in the south west of the city who has been traced. “That seems to have resolved the issue,” he said.

How city’s crime rate has fallen

Overall crime: down by 8.5 per cent or more than 1400 crimes.

Serious assaults: down by 12.7 per cent from 212 to 185.

Robberies: down by 13.3 per cent from 128 to 111.

Total sexual crimes: down by 12.9 per cent from 595 to 518.

Prostitution-related crimes: down from 18 to eight.

Total crimes of dishonesty: down 6.3 per cent or more than 600 crimes.

Domestic housebreaking:down 25 per cent from 974 to 730.

Total vehicle crime: down 12.7 per cent from 1676 to 1463.

Shoplifting: up by 6.9 per cent from 1731 to 1851.

Fraud: up 7.8 per cent from 523 to 564.

Vandalism: down 8.3 per cent from 2725 to 2500.

Fire-raising: up 10.5 per cent from 161 to 178.

Offensive or bladed weapons: up 6.4 per cent from 155 to 165.

Drugs supply: down by 22 per cent from 245 to 191.

Drugs possession: down by 26 per cent from 1013 to 940.