Police solve half of housebreakings in crackdown

Sixtenn charged with offences.Picture: Comp

Sixtenn charged with offences.Picture: Comp

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HALF of all housebreakings in Edinburgh have been solved this year after a police blitz rounded up dozens of thieves – including some as young as 11 years old.

Operation RAC was launched after the number of solved break-ins in the city plummeted to 17 per cent following the disbanding of specialist teams after Police Scotland was formed in April.

A 47-strong specialist squad – created to tackle housebreakings after police chiefs came under withering criticism – has solved 51 per cent of cases since the start of the year.

The reversal in performance was today welcomed, while calls were made for police to put the housebreaking clampdown on a “permanent ­footing”.

Police Scotland hailed the rise in solvency rates since January 1 – higher than the average of about 40 per cent of cases cleared up under the Lothian and Borders force.

Today’s figures also revealed teenage housebreakers were among the most active in the Lothians this month.

Two children, aged 11 and 12, were detained in West Lothian after they tried to break into an unoccupied address in Sibbald View, Armadale on February 2.

On Tuesday, the Evening News revealed that a teenage gang of burglars were operating in Newington and Morningside – with police admitting they were powerless to keep them off the streets for long.

Officers today said they had arrested a 13-year-old over break-ins in Newington and a pair of 15-year-olds in connection with housebreakings in the area’s Gray Street and Nicolson Street. Meanwhile, 15 and 16-year-olds were also detained over break-ins in Leith.

A total of 16 burglars were arrested in Edinburgh during the week ending on Tuesday, resulting in charges being brought for more than 200 theft offences. These arrests put the detection rate at 61 per cent for the week.

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart said: “This shows what can be done when proper focus is placed on an issue that worried many residents in Edinburgh.

“But those residents will also be wondering why that focus only happened in response to outrage after specialist housebreaking teams were broken up when Police Scotland was formed.

“I hope we can now expect an announcement that the teams will be put on a permanent footing once again.”

Tory justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said: “This reversal is welcome. The young children being arrested is very worrying though.

“It is their parents who need to be held responsible for allowing their children to be out and committing these crimes.”

Detective Inspector John Kavanagh said: “The public can rest assured that we will continue to pursue all lines of inquiry to bring acquisitive crime offenders to justice.”