Thieves target elderly

ARMIDALE’S elderly residents have been targeted by thieves in a recent spate of break and enters.

The break and enters have mostly occurred at night over the past fortnight, and often when residents are inside their houses.

Three juveniles were arrested early last month in relation to aggravated break and enters, but investigations are continuing into the more recent offences.

The offenders are targeting the elderly and other soft targets, prompting police to warn people to be vigilant and keep doors locked in the evening.

New England Local Area Command Acting Inspector Gemma Gallagher said: “We’re following up a number of strong leads in relation to some suspects, and the investigation’s ongoing at this stage.

“I think there’s a few people that have been a bit lackadaisical and think it won’t happen to me.

“We really want to get across to the community the message of ‘lock it or lose it’. What that means is locking your doors, locking your windows, not keeping your valuables in easily seen places, keeping your keys hidden, even locking your vehicles.”

Acting Insp Gallagher said residents often disregarded noises heard outside their homes, only to later find their house had been

broken into.

“So if you hear any noise, we’d rather people ring us,” she said.

“Don’t feel stupid, either ring the local police station or CrimeStoppers and then we can assess it ourselves. Policing is like a jigsaw puzzle. Every little piece of information counts to solving the bigger picture, so we rely on the community to help us.”

Latest crime statistics show a gradual decline in the number of break and enters in the Armidale Dumaresq local government area, with 168 recorded in the 12 months to March 2012, down from 253 the previous year. There were 132 thefts from vehicles in the same period, down from 152 in the previous year.

Acting Insp Gallagher said spikes in crime could not be put down to seasonal trends or other external factors.

“We can’t put a timeframe on it in terms of whether it’s because it’s winter or summer, we don’t know,” she said.

“It just depends on who’s around at certain times. It might be the case of people who have just been recently released from jail, and that might lead to an increase down the track.”

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