A PAIR of housebreakers aged 11 and 12 years old have been arrested as part of a police crackdown.
Details on the two youngsters have been sent to the Children’s Reporter after a house in Mayfield Place, Dalkeith, was broken into and a purse was stolen in August.
The story has echoes of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist, with the boys understood to have been put up to the crime by an older man, a Fagin figure, who has since left the area.
Dalkeith councillor Peter De Vink said he was “horrified” to hear of the ages of those arrested.
He said: “This is awful to hear but I must stress it is not typical for the area. People will rush to judgment upon hearing the ages of those involved but you get bad eggs and in every area. Mayfield is a working class area but there is a great sense of community.”
This was echoed by Mayfield and Easthouse community council chair Robert Hogg, who said: “This is shocking and there was a lot of anger in the area that children were being used in such a way.
“The man suspected of being involved has since left the area. Mayfield is a great area full of great community-minded folk.”
In a separate incident last August, a home in Lothian Drive, Easthouses, was also broken into and a mobile phone and tobacco were stolen. As a result, two males aged 15 and 12 have since been turned in to the Children’s Reporter.
Back in November, 20-year-old Dean Williams was charged with the murder of Craig Essen following an incident in the Rowan Tree Pub in Mayfield.
In total, ten people have been charged with housebreaking offences in Mid, East, West Lothian as part of an ongoing Police Scotland campaign to crack down on housebreaking.
Operation RAC was launched in December to tackle housebreaking after the issue was identified as a priority across the region.
In West Lothian, two men were arrested and charged with housebreaking, while in East Lothian one man has been charged and officers continue to pursue known offenders throughout the region.
Chief Inspector Jim Royan, local commander for Midlothian, said: “Operation RAC continues to identify those responsible for domestic and commercial housebreaking and bring them to justice.
“Offenders should be left in no doubt that police robustly investigate all reports of acquisitive crime, and anyone found to be involved will be identified and arrested.
“In addition to enforcement activity, local officers remain committed to providing our communities with crime prevention advice and personal security information.”
He added that the public could help by making sure their property was secure, and added: “Ensuring all outbuildings have suitable security measures in place, particularly in the more remote rural areas, will also stop your home or business becoming an easy target for criminals.”
Those wishing further advice on crime prevention can visit www.scotland.police.uk.