Residents living on a Sheffield estate are taking matters into their own hands following a spate of burglaries which has left them fearing who will be targeted next.
Those living on the Brearley Forge in Parson Cross have joined forces to fight back against thieves after a number of homes in the area were burgled.
Those living on the estate – which was built on derelict land in the Falstaff area – say there have been over 20 incidents within the past year where a burglary has been attempted at a property, or where thieves have been successful in making entry and have taken valuables.
And, despite supplying police with CCTV images of the suspected culprits, the problem has been getting worse with at least three reported in recent months.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s a nightmare. We moved in on phase two of the building work and where we live there is a row of houses behind.
“The last house to be built on the estate was actually the first one to be burgled, and that was around 2pm in the afternoon so proves they aren’t bothered.
“All the houses are meant to be fitted with anti-tamper windows downstairs, but they don't seem to work because that’s how they’ve been getting in through the windows.
“All the properties have thumb locks as well, making it easy for thieves to get out the house once they're in. During one of the burglaries the thief let themselves out, only to return 10 minutes later and let himself back in to take more stuff.”
Deciding enough was enough, residents set up a Facebook group to discuss what was happening in the area, and a Whatsapp group so people can let each other know quickly if they have seen anything suspicious.
They also discuss idea for house locks, and advice on alarm systems.
“We’ve got about 49 people on the Whatsapp group so far, it’s good to get the community together,” a resident said. “I think they are targeting the new build houses thinking that we may have money but in reality most of us are first time buyers.
“I’ve seen one police patrol in the area recently, and we’ve supplied the police with information but nothing has been done. They just say it is due to funding cuts, but it shouldn’t be about funding it should be about keeping residents and neighbourhoods safe.
“My partner sometimes works nights, and if I’m on my own I don’t feel safe I don’t know what I’d do if something broke in.”
Residents said those houses built during phase one were fitted with house alarms as standard, but others were left without and some residents simply can’t afford them.
So, they are now actively taking part in patrols around the estate, in a bid to catch suspected burglars, and make the estate feel safe again.
They are also planning to write a letter to Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, to air their concerns and will be holding a community meeting in February.
Sergeant Scott Sarson, from the North East Neighbourhood team, said: “We are aware of a recent increase in burglaries committed in and around the Brearley Forge estate.
“Typically, we do tend to see an increase in the number of burglaries at this time of year; however it is also important to note that burglary figures are down in comparison to previous years across Sheffield.
“We are committed to reducing these numbers further. Burglary is an extremely intrusive crime and recently we have increased patrols within the area and are undertaking a number of operations to find those responsible.
“We would strongly advise against people taking matters in to their own hands and to let us as police officers deal with this, we don’t want anyone to put themselves in danger.
“I’d also like to urge anyone with information in the community to get in touch with us.
“If anyone sees anything unusual, including what they believe may be a suspicious vehicle, please note down the registration number and call 101 with the information or contact your local neighbourhood team directly. If you believe, a burglary is actually taking place call 999 immediately.
“We are currently in the process of contacting all Neighbourhood Watch schemes and inviting them to join us at our community Pop In Police Stations to increase information and intelligence development.
“As always, we would ask people to take simple crime prevention measures with their homes and cars, such as making sure all doors and windows are locked and making sure valuables are removed or hidden from sight to prevent opportunists.”