ONE in three people in Sheffield is afraid of burglars - yet more than a third of city residents ignore house alarms going off, and almost half don’t respond when car alarms sound, it has been revealed.
The figures have emerged as break-ins at homes in Sheffield have soared.
There were 3,266 house burglaries over the last 10 months, a rise of more than eight per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.
South Yorkshire Police has launched a big operation to catch the culprits - but the force is asking people to stay vigilant and not to be afraid to call with their concerns.
Chief Superintendent David Hartley, the new district commander for Sheffield, said people should have ‘no reluctance at all’ about reporting crimes, adding: “The very worst thing would be to let these things lie and let this offending go on.”
Chf Supt Hartley said: “Anyone who reports good, timely, information gives us the best chance of catching burglars. My encouragement would be to always call in.”
But he said he understood why residents might not act on hearing alarms.
“Car alarms are so commonplace people might not think they are genuine, but there isn’t a burglar in the land who would continue with a burglary if an alarm goes off,” he said.
“We’ve put out a comprehensive response to the rise in burglaries. We’ve seen very encouraging signs that we are arresting the right people, and offending is stopping.”
An extra 40 officers have been drafted in to help tackle the issue. The worst affected areas include Frecheville, Handsworth, Woodthorpe, Gleadless and Darnall, and in some areas burglaries have tripled.
“It’s difficult to identify what’s changed that caused them to go up,” said Chf Supt Hartley.
“The economic climate is a contributing factor. Also, we saw a number of people released from prison in advance of Christmas, who maybe returned to their criminal habits. We’ve seen a steady increase since early December.”
Many of the houses broken into are also fitted with Eurolocks on UPVC doors, he added.
“It may be it’s almost trending within the criminal fraternity that these doors are vulnerable,” said the commander.
“I would recommend people leave lights on when they go out and, if they have UPVC doors, have them reviewed.”
Jean Butcher, chair of Handsworth and Ballifield TARA, said there were 17 burglaries in one night last week in her neighbourhood.
“That’s a lot of burglaries, and I think it’s absolutely disgusting,” said Mrs Butcher.
“Thugs and burglars have no respect whatsoever.”
She called on local people not to be fearful of phoning the police.
“We get phone calls from tenants after crimes have happened saying, ‘What can we do?’. If they think something is not right they should call 101 - you don’t have to give your name, just tell them where the crime is,” Mrs Butcher said.
“People are afraid to phone the police and in the end the TARA has to finish up ringing. We don’t mind, but if more people did phone the police, crime would decrease.
“People are afraid of getting reprisals. In this day and age they should not be afraid.”
According to a survey by insurance firm Legal and General, 39 per cent of Sheffielders said they were worried about crime, and 34 per cent would ignore a burglar alarm. The poll found 46 per cent would ignore a car alarm.
Company director Mike Lawler said: “It’s disappointing to learn so many of us are reluctant to act when we hear alarms sounding.
“We’re encouraging everyone to remain vigilant and be proactive in reporting crime if they see it - it can make a big difference to the safety of a neighbourhood.”