Burglars are targeting at least two properties a night in the Chippenham area, with thousands of pounds worth of equipment stolen from sheds and garages in just one month.
Police are keen to warn residents and businesses of a growing spate of raids on outbuildings, estimated at more than 60 in the last month, which has seen everything from mountain bikes, to drills and chainsaws, stolen.
Concerns have been raised that there could be a group coordinating the attacks around the town, although other theories have not been discounted.
Police Inspector Martin Schorah, who covers the Chippenham area, said: “We have an analyst working on the information now and we have been looking at the local trends and patterns of these crimes.
“We are looking to capture all the forensic opportunities that we can. We are beginning to build up a picture but it still doesn’t tell us if they are local or from outside the area.”
In the last few days alone there have been numerous break-ins, including at commercial premises, such as at Hillside Business Park, Biddestone, where a chainsaw and hedgecutters worth about £10,000 were taken from a commercial premises overnight on March 1.
On the same night, Moto X gear, hedgecutters and a camera were taken from a premise in Glebe Meadow when burglars entered through a sky light.
In Little Down, residents of one property awoke to find two of their mountain bikes, worth £650 each, had been stolen, after burglars unscrewed the door hinges to their shed at some point overnight on February 29.
On March 2, thieves gained entry through an unlocked garage doors to steal a chop saw worth £800/£900 in London Road, and only a few days earlier their neighbours had also been targeted.
One of those left counting the cost of one of the raids is Peter McCourt from the Langley Road area of Chippenham. He was at home with his wife Celia and three-year-old daughter when their garage was broken in to on Tuesday night.
“We heard a noise at about 1.30am but just put it down to the wind unfortunately,” said Mr MCourt, 35.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed that my property has been broken into and I have lost some items which are very important to me.”
The couple realised they had been broken into when Mrs McCourt went outside and saw that the door had been forced off its hinges.
Among the high value items stolen was a 29-inch wheel Gary Fisher mountain bike, estimated to be worth £1,200.
It is off-white and is a made-to-measure design.
A second mountain bike and a chainsaw were also taken.
Chippenham beat manager PC Rachel Webb said: “There have been an unwelcome increase in thefts from sheds during
“We often find an increase in thefts at this time of year with people stealing bikes, garden machinery and so on.
We urge people to help themselves by improving security, considering better locks, marking property, infra-red lighting and so on.
“Householders can also join Neighbourhood Watch.
“We will be conducting both high visibility patrols and undercover operations to prevent and detect these offences.”
If you have any information that can help the police call them on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. For further details on the Neighbourhood Watch contact PC Webb on 101.
(Reproduced from Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, March 9th 2012)
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