Smash-and-grab thieves targeting upmarket homes

Thieves have their sights set on iPads and iPods
Thieves have their sights set on iPads and iPods
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OPPORTUNIST thieves are hitting upmarket homes in their quest to make “fast cash” in quick smash-and-grabs.

Some areas of the Grange, Marchmont and Newington have seen a 16 per cent rise in break-ins, bucking the downward trend across the rest of the Capital.

The thieves have gone after items such as iPads, iPods and laptops which can be sold on easily for hundreds of pounds rather than large hauls which could net thousands.

A new initiative – Operation Dispatch – was launched earlier this year in response and, although a number of arrests have been made, officers are warning residents to remain vigilant.

Ground-floor homes have been hit particularly badly, especially those where electrical goods are easily visible through the windows.

The robberies are happening day and night, leading to extra patrols 24 hours a day and a doubling of police resources. Officers are also going door to door to offer crime prevention advice, including security tips for doors and windows.

Chief Inspector John Rae said: “The Grange [and surrounding areas] have bucked the downward trend of housebreakings we’ve seen across the Capital, and in recent months we have in fact seen a rise.

“Operation Dispatch has been in place since late January, and we’ve greatly bolstered the teams operating in these areas. There have been a number of successes in terms of arrests, however, break-ins are continuing, mainly in ground-floor dwellings. We’d encourage residents to ensure windows and doors are secured and well maintained.

“The majority of break-ins tend to target electrical items, iPods, iPads and laptops being the most popular, and we would encourage anyone who has seen anything suspicious to contact police. Similarly, anyone with information as to where these items are being sold should contact us.”

The Evening News revealed yesterday how figures for Edinburgh as a whole have shown housebreaking dropping in the past two years. Almost five homes a day were broken into in 2011, but the total of 1700 crimes is a dramatic improvement on the 2100 recorded a couple of years earlier.

Last year, Niddrie was the worst-hit district, with 50 break-ins, followed by 49 at Hillside, off London Road, while Blackford had 46.

Meadows and Morningside councillor Paul Godzik said: “There have been problems with housebreakings in these areas and thieves are clearly looking to target affluent areas in the city centre.

“I’ve spoken to police regarding the figures in south areas, and I know they are targeting resources in these areas. There have been a number of crimes and patterns are emerging.”

Snatch of the day

THEY are the must-have gadgets of the 21st century, but all our electronic devices are also hot property for housebreakers.

Expensive electronic gadgets such as iPads, and slim-line laptops are among the most sought after items for robbers because they are valuable and, more importantly, easy to carry.

Throughout the 1980s housebreaking was on the increase, with homes being targeted for video recorders, TVs and stereo systems, which were at the time of great value and easy to sell on the black market.

All that came to an end in the 90s, however, as a flood of cheaper electronic goods saw the value of such items plummet – and contributed to a steep fall in housebreaking. Housebreakers were not helped by the increasing number of large-screen TVs, which were valuable but very difficult to transport.

In recent years, however, the arrival of small, easy-to-carry and extremely valuable electronic goods has seen them jump to the top of the “must steal” queue.