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Successful anti-burglary operation extended
BURGLARIES falling by more than a third has prompted police in Worcester to extend an operation targeting the crime.
West Mercia Police’s Operation Fuchsia has been running since September, during which time burglary in the area has dropped by 37 per cent in comparison with the same period last year.
The operation has devoted extra resources to tackling burglary during a time of year when the crime traditionally increases as a result of the darker evenings, with plain-clothes officers on the city’s streets every day tracking down offenders and identifying potential risks.
Other teams in marked cars move around the surrounding area in an effort to deter potential criminals.
Announcing the extension of the operation until the end of October, superintendant Mark Travis, head of policing in south Worcestershire, said he was delighted by the success of the operation and hoped the force would be able to build on it.
“We are going about it with the greatest amount of zeal and throwing all the assets we have at the problem at the same time,” he said.
“It’s a bit like a Swiss army knife – you’ve got all the blades available to you at the same time.”
Describing the tactic of having officers in the city supported by others further afield as “a ring of steel”, he said the force would not rest on its laurels following the encouraging statistics revealed this week. “We are not being complacent,” he said.
“Is Worcester a safe place to be? Yes. Do we have to continue to tackle crime? Absolutely. It’s about sending the message to criminals that we are out there. The harder we make it for them, the less likely it is they’re going to commit crimes.”
Detective chief inspector Stacey Williamson said she was concerned many officers while on patrol had found a large number of unoccupied homes and buildings left unlocked, or with windows left open.
“We are doing all we can to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time, but we also need the public to consider their security,” she said.
“People often go out leaving their homes insecure. We need the public to help us with this.”
Supt Travis said another element of the operation was identifying known or repeat offenders and working with them to stop them committing further crimes.
“We don’t have a massive burglary problem in Worcester – this is about prevention,” he said.
“It is a crime that has a horrible impact on people and we do focus on it all year round.
“This is about putting a significant amount of extra resources into tackling it during a peak time.”
He also said the operation would be reviewed again at the end of the month and could be extended further.
Reporter Ian Craig spent a few hours patrolling Worcestershire with two West Mercia Police officers as part of Operation Fuschsia and found there's more to the initiative than meets the eye.
EVERY little boy secretly wants to have a ride in a police car and – more than two decades later – I finally got to fulfil that dream when I joined West Mercia Police’s Detective Constable Leon Westwood and Police Constable Kelle Westwood on patrol with Operation Fuchsia.
Our first destination was the Droitwich area, where we visited a park homes development just outside the town.
Park homes – holiday homes not unlike static mobile homes – are seen as a prime target for burglars as they are frequently left unattended for long stretches of time and many owners are over 50.
Thankfully, all seemed to be well with only a few residents at home and all the other units locked up tight.
Making a stop at a roundabout on the edge of Droitwich as the rush hour traffic went by, DC Westwood explained to me a large part of the operation involved simply driving around the region in a high-visibility car to make residents feel safer and – hopefully – make criminals think twice before committing crimes.
Whenever the officers spotted a vehicle they felt may have been suspicious, PC Westwood called the force’s headquarters with the number plate, where it was checked to see if its insurance and MOT were valid, whether it was registered to the West Mercia area and if it was connected to any crimes.
Rental cars and vans are often prime suspects as it is easier for criminals to cover their tracks if they use a vehicle they don’t own but those with a large amount of people in are also likely to be checked, as criminals tend to move in groups, as well as Audis which currently seem to be the offender’s vehicle of choice.
After a few hours moving around the area between Droitwich and Evesham I was beginning to realise The Wire was not an altogether realistic depiction of the day-to-day life of a police officer.
But then an alert came in over the radio about a black Audi which was thought to have been involved in a drug deal and all of a sudden we were careening along towards Worcester on the A44 at a fair rate of knots with the blue lights flashing.
After a cat-and-mouse game through the outskirts of the city in which I began to feel incredibly queasy we found a number of other police cars had already found and stopped the car in Mill Wood Drive in Warndon Villages outside the entrance to Tesco and were questioning its occupants.
I later discovered that a 24-year-old man from the Worcester area had been arrested on suspicion of intent to supply class B drugs and was bailed the following day.
With my lunch threatening to make a messy re-appearance I decided to call an end to my excursion and the two officers dropped me back at Worcester News towers before speeding off to Fernhill Heath to continue the hunt.
I, for one, am glad they’re out there.
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