RESIDENTS are fighting back against burglars.
Eleven homes in Greys Road and Greys Hill in Henley have been broken into in the last six months.
Now neighbours are planning to block off an alleyway between the streets which they believe the burglars are using to access their homes and also to escape.
The campaign is being led by Nick and Charlie Martin, whose home in Greys Hill was broken into in December just two months after the couple had moved in.
Mrs Martin, 32, a headhunter in London, said the burglars used a crowbar to get in and stole a laptop belonging to her husband, 32, who is a finance consultant.
Mrs Martin said: “Being burgled can be very distressing so we want to put a stop to it. I put a letter through the door of everyone in our street asking them to get involved and I was inundated with responses.”
More than 20 residents, including town councillor Will Hamilton, attended a meeting and decided to ask the town council to agree to the installation of 6ft gates in the alleyway with access keys or codes for residents.
Mrs Martin said: “The meeting was really helpful and a representative from the police came to give us advice on how to deter burglars.
“We are trying to drive the alleyway project forward and are hoping to get a group to clean up the alleyway as well.
“We also want people to dial 101 [the police non-emergency number] if they see anything suspicious.” Councillor Hamilton said the number of burglaries in the area was above the average and he supported the residents’ demand for action.
He said: “The alleyway was used to access the back of the properties in the old days and is now used to access the bins. The residents want a 6ft gate at the end of this alley so you can’t get a television over it.”
Lynn Hart, who lives in Greys Road, said: “We all feel vulnerable with the back alleyway and it needs sorting out.
“I fully support what Charlie and her husband are doing. The amount of burglaries round here is unacceptable.”
Jo Moss, who lives with her husband Colin and their two children in Greys Road, said: “There have been quite a few burglaries and the police are fantastic at talking to everyone and offering advice but if we can help ourselves it would be even better.
“Charlie and Nick have been fantastic since they moved in and took it upon themselves to start this campaign. Hopefully the whole road will come together.”
Julie Saraff, who lives in Greys Hill with her husband Kevin and two children, said: “The plan to put in gates is really good and I’m glad they are talking about cleaning up the alleyway too. It’s nice to know that there’s a good community spirit.
“The amount of burglaries round here is awful. It seems like there is one every few weeks. We’ve had an alarm fitted but my children are scared to be in the house alone any more.”
Jason Knibbs, 43, an account manager, who lives in Greys Road with his wife Helena, 42, said: “We have been here about a year and it’s very concerning when your neighbours are being burgled. You do worry, especially when you go away on holiday.
“It’s good that people are looking to do something about it. The gate would stop people getting easy access and would probably resolve a lot of the problems.”
Tracie Douglas-Jones, who lives in Greys Hill with her husband Kevin, also welcomed the gate plan, saying: “It’s very good to see some good old-fashioned community spirit.”
Helen Prescot, 59, of Greys Road, said: “I’m fully behind what Charlie is doing and it’s good that people want to do something about this.”
Cllr Hamilton is trying to find out whether the alleyway is owned by the residents Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority.
“It’s good to see the community coming together,” he said. “I’m already working on getting gates installed in the alleyway and once we know who owns it we can move forward with that.”
Insp Mark Harling, head of Henley police, said: “Burglary is always my main concern in Henley and we must never take our eye off of the ball. We are regularly making arrests and currently have people on bail.
“The message I would like to get across to people is make sure your home and property are secure, take advantage of the free crime prevention advice from the local neighbourhood team and if you see anything suspicious, call the police.
“Burglary is a serious problem but it appears that people only become concerned when they have been a victim. Our work involves trying to prevent people from becoming victims as well as trying to solve the crimes if they occur.
“Police patrols have been happening and I have been doing some of them myself. It really is about making it as difficult as possible for the thieves.”
Electrician Mark Hughes, who lives in Greys Road, had his van broken into twice in the space of six weeks at the end of last year and more than £2,000 worth of equipment stolen.