QUICK-thinking neighbours who spotted a burglary on their street used mobile phones to snap two suspects – who were arrested a short distance away.
The residents were today applauded by police for their community spirit.
“Clearly, a photograph of an offender at the scene is excellent evidence,” Inspector Ian Stubbs told The Star.
“This is pretty unusual, it doesn’t happen often.”
A resident was at home on Charlotte Road in Highfield when they heard a property being broken into in broad daylight.
After first telephoning the police to report the burglary in progress, the neighbour and several friends used the cameras on their mobile phones to snap pictures as it happened.
When the would-be intruders realised they were being watched, they fled – but the neighbours continued to snap pictures as they ran away.
When police arrived minutes later they were able to arrest one man nearby.
And the photographs on the witnesses’ phones helped officers to identify a suspected accomplice shortly afterwards.
Mum-of-one Rachel Dunk, aged 33, who has lived in Charlotte Road for six years, said: “There have been quite a few burglaries round here but the neighbours really do look out for each other.
“A girl two doors up from me was burgled and it was her next-door neighbour who noticed the back door was open.
“I think it’s great when people do something to help.”
Insp Stubbs, who covers Woodseats and Gleadless Valley for South Yorkshire Police, confirmed: “Two males were seen acting suspiciously by a house, then they were disturbed by a neighbour as they tried to break into the property.
“During the course of that, several housemates managed to capture their pictures by taking photographs on their mobile phones.”
Praising the residents, Insp Stubbs added people should be careful.
“I want to thank them for their help but I would discourage anyone from putting themselves at risk,” he said.
“If they can take a photo without drawing attention to themselves then it can help the police – but I would be very reluctant to encourage anyone to put themselves in danger.”
The neighbours’ actions were commended on the Woodseats and Gleadless Valley SNT’s Facebook page.
Christine Naylor wrote: “Brill result. A good use for camera phones at last.”
The news comes only three weeks after The Star reported burglaries in Sheffield have soared eight per cent in a year – yet a third of city residents ignore burglar alarms, and almost half don’t respond when a car alarm is wailing.
Two men have been arrested and released on bail while officers conduct further inquiries into the offence at 5.30pm last Thursday.
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