CALLOUS thieves have stolen Christmas presents a family home in Bathgate.
They struck in Beech Road on Thursday, November 19 between 2am and 5.30am, making off with presents, a child’s buggy and a Vauxhall Astra.
A second break-in then took place between 11pm on Monday, November 23 and 6.20am on Tuesday, November 24 at a home in Falside Terrace, taking football equipment and a Ford Mondeo.
Both cars were found a short distance away.
Constable Greig Muir, of Livingston Police Station, said: “Any housebreaking is a horrible experience for those targeted, but to have Christmas presents stolen at this time of year, as well as kids’ coaching equipment, is extremely callous.
“Both housebreakings are similar and our inquiries are continuing to establish if both incidents are linked.
“I would appeal for anyone with information in relation to either of these housebreakings to get in touch and contact police immediately.”
The news comes as police launch an ‘advent calendar’ campaign aiming to crackdown on Christmas crime.
Every day in the lead-up to December 25, Police Scotland divisions will release a new message on Facebook and Twitter in a bid to spread safety messages.
These will range from tips about how to “party safe” and get home safely after a night out, to advice on how to avoid cyber scams while shopping online.
The dangers of counterfeit goods such as imitation alcohol, fake make-up and electrical goods will also be highlighted.
Meanwhile, local officers will conduct high-visibility patrols to reassure the public and tackle violence, antisocial behaviour and hate crime throughout Christmas and New Year.
Chief Superintendent Gill Imery, divisional commander for the Lothians and Scottish Borders, said: “There will be an increase in the number of officers deployed over the festive period as we work towards keeping people safe.
“This year, the policing focus for the festive period falls on five key areas, namely violence and disorder, antisocial behaviour, acquisitive crime, hate crime and road safety.
“Local communities can rest assured we are committed to tackling all criminal activity and we are continuing to work hard to ensure everyone who lives and visits the Lothians and Borders has a wonderful Christmas.”
Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson, local area commander for Midlothian, said: “Being a victim of crime especially at this time of year can often be a very traumatic experience and local officers in the region are working closely with our relevant partners to deter criminal activity and ensure our communities are safeguarded over the festive season.”
Among the recommended steps to guard against crime are keeping your home secure and obscuring high-value presents or money from view.
Ch Insp Simpson added: “If you’re travelling to friends or family this year, please keep your home secure. Lock all windows and doors, set your house alarm and ask a neighbour or friend you trust to keep an eye out while you are away.
“If you are aware of any criminal activity in your area then please report this to police.”
Last year, during the festive period, police launched a major crackdown on domestic abuse offenders.
Reports of physical and verbal abuse in the home often surge over the Christmas period, with many incidents linked to alcohol.
Police in Edinburgh deal with an average of 250 domestic abuse offences over the festive fortnight, with a fifth of these occurring on Hogmanay alone.