POLICE have blamed residents who do not protect their homes properly for a rise in burglaries.
The number of break-ins in the Henley police sector increased by 10 per cent from 59 to 65 in the 10 months to the end of January compared with the same period in the previous year.
Inspector Mark Harling, head of Henley police, said: “My sense is that people are not, and never have been, taking this problem seriously.
In a report to the town council’s town and community committee, he said: “A few weeks ago in the 10 years ago column of the Henley Standard there was an article where the local police were telling people to take car keys upstairs and a general warning about burglaries. We are still talking about this. It 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 but also trying to solve crimes if they occur.
“The message I would like to get across to people is to make sure they ensure their homes and property are secure, including sheds and outbuildings, take advantage of free crime prevention advice and if they see anything suspicious, phone the police and let us know.
“There will always be a case for getting an alarm installed — and they are really cheap and easy to install these days — especially when you consider the value of our possessions.
“Neighbourhood police community support officers are visiting houses by going door-to-door and talking about these measures to improve security and prevent people from becoming victims but there is only so much we can do.
“I accept that parking and dog excrement are important issues, however my feeling is that burglary is infinitely more important — speak to any burglary victim and they will tell you that.
“This is and will continue to be my number one priority in the town.”
Committee chairwoman Pam Phillips said: “The police are working very hard to alleviate burglaries and I would remind residents to actually lock their houses. Do not leave windows open — not even slightly open.” Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “I am surprised that people leave laptops in their cars and keys visible by the front door. It is common sense that some people clearly don’t have.”
The number of reported crimes in the Henley sector fell by 20 per cent from 735 to 585 but the detection rate also fell by five per cent.
The number of public order offences fell from 45 to 41, assaults from 80 to 61, non-dwelling burglaries from 49 to 43 and shoplifting offences from 85 to 54. The number of cases of criminal damage remained the same at 73.
Insp Harling said the majority of assaults were related to “the night-time economy” and did not result in any injury.