Police declare victory in fight against break-ins

Police search a van to recover stolen items such as a woman's hand bag and a set of golf clubs. Picture: Lesley Martin
Police search a van to recover stolen items such as a woman's hand bag and a set of golf clubs. Picture: Lesley Martin
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A dedicated crackdown on a spate of break-ins across the Capital has led to a “significant” drop in cases, according to police.

Senior officers vowed to stamp out an alarming number of domestic break-ins involving the theft of high-powered cars earlier this year.

At the height of the problem, one in six home thefts resulted in a vehicle being taken – while many of the culprits were juvenile offenders.

The number of cases involving thieves stealing car keys from homes and fleeing in stolen cars rose from 23 in January to 53 in February.

Superintendent Alan Porte, who has been overseeing Operation RAC, today insisted that his officers had brought the problem under control.

Specialist units including the Police Scotland helicopter and dog handlers have supported local police to gather key intelligence and carry out raids.

Supt Porte revealed that since mid-April, the number of housebreakings across the city has dropped by 60 per cent. The detection rate for domestic break-ins has also risen from 36 per cent to 42 per cent in the same period.

“We are absolutely having some positive results and having a real impact,” said Supt Porte. “Last weekend, in the whole of the city, there was one house broken into and one business premises broken into. These figures speak for themselves. Vehicle crime has also dropped significantly. In the past two weeks we have not had any that fit the profile of somebody breaking into a house to steal a car.”

At the launch of Operation RAC, city police boss Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said his officers would target around 40 young offenders – mainly based in north 
Edinburgh – who were co-ordinating over social media.

Housebreaking incidents were prioritised through the forensic system in an attempt to fast-track prosecutions.

Supt Porte said the team had since brought many of the criminals to justice, with the main focus on an active “hardcore” of 12 to 15 thieves.

Police Scotland is working closely with the court service and other agencies in a bid to “divert” thieves away from a pattern of re-offending.

Supt Porte also said that there was little intelligence to suggest that the criminals are still using social media to plan their raids.

While the north, west and Pentlands districts of the city were the worst-hit at the start of the year, the picture is changing.

“We are not seeing the same pattern of an area being particularly targeted and we are not seeing the same profile of crime that we were seeing some months ago,” he said.

Since the launch of Operation RAC, the majority of housebreaking cases have returned to more traditional opportunistic break-ins during the day, when someone has broken in to steal goods, rather than for car keys.

Supt Porte said: “This is a team effort by all the officers who are working in Edinburgh, we are absolutely delighted with the success we are having. But it will remain a priority – we are not complacent.”