Police dawn raids help crackdown on break-ins

The suspect is led away by police officers
The suspect is led away by police officers
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A “RELENTLESS” crackdown on city criminals has helped police in the Capital solve a higher number of domestic break-ins.

Since Operation RAC was re-launched in April to deal with a spate of housebreakings linked to car thefts, the detection rate has risen to 38 per cent.

The improvement was revealed as undercover police launched a series of dawn raids to target thieves blighting the Capital. The drive has seen criminals as young as 15 being detained this week.

Officers swooped on a city guesthouse early yesterday to detain a known criminal suspected of stealing a diamond necklace and a haul of cigarettes.

Eight plain-clothed officers gathered at Gayfield Police Station early yesterday to be instructed on the raid, connected to a break-in to a flat on Edina Place last Thursday. The alleged thief was suspected of stealing a silver chain encrusted with five diamonds, believed to be worth around £350 to £600. A large quantity of Mayfair cigarettes – worth around £216 – were also stolen in the break-in.

Officers took the “agitated” suspect – who has an extensive police record of more than 350 offences – away in handcuffs while others searched his room at the AAA guesthouse on East Hermitage Place.

He was later released pending further inquiry – but Edinburgh’s divisional commander insisted the targeted campaign was getting daily results.

In 2013-14, 29.5 per cent of domestic break-ins were solved by city cops, rising slightly to 32 per cent in the following financial year. However, in just two months, the detection rate has risen to 38 per cent.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said the crackdown, led on the ground by Detective Inspector Alan O’Brien, was “relentless”.

Fast-tracked forensic examination and public tip-offs via social media and other means have led to arrests, while housebreaking cases are now dealt with on petition to ensure punishments have more gravity.

He said: “Every day we are arresting criminals for housebreakings in Edinburgh. We’re seeing a reduction in the overall commission rate across the city but we cannot be complacent.”

This week, police arrested several young men believed to be at the “hardcore” of the wave of break-ins.

A 20-year-old man appeared in court yesterday after being detained in Hopetoun Crescent for four warrant offences, while a 15-year-old boy handed himself at St Leonard’s Police station on Wednesday.

The teenager was the last of a group of young thieves to be detained for break-ins to the Edinburgh Research and Innovation Centre on Roxburgh Street, and a flat in Nicolson Street earlier this month.

Ch Supt Williams said: “We want fewer victims, and we’re starting to see that but there’s a long way to go. This isn’t a one-week or two-week operation. We will be relentless and persistent.”

During yesterday’s raids, uniformed officers handed out leaflets for Crimestoppers to highlight ways of getting in touch. Angela Parker, national manager for Crimestoppers in Scotland, said: “For various reasons, people don’t want to talk to the police We ensure that any information is completely anonymous. You do get a spike in calls around an operation.”