Teenage burglars stopped in their tracks in Cheltenham North
CRACKING down on teenage criminals has helped to slash burglaries by more than 50 per cent in a crime hotspot.
The Cheltenham North area, which includes Hester's Way and Whaddon, has seen a 53 per cent drop in break-ins.
It comes after police focussed their efforts on children who challenged one another to break into homes, often on their way home from school. Officers came down hard on the youngsters who were known to boast about their criminal ways.
The successful result is that crime in the area fell by 25 per cent, which is the best in the county.
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There were 139 fewer crimes from April 1 to October 30 this year than the same period the previous year.
This included 223 fewer burglaries from April 1 to October 30 than the same period last year.
In October last year alone there were 110 burglaries of dwellings, whereas this October there were only 36.
Cheltenham North police chief, Inspector Jon Roberts put the success down to "concentrating on the criminals rather than the crimes". "Up to seven months ago, we were per head having more dwelling burglaries than anywhere in the country. We were getting absolutely hammered," he said.
"All the kids from the local area were coming out of school and before they went home they went out and broke into houses. There was competition between some of the Hester's Way and Whaddon groups over who could break into the most houses and steal the nicest cars. We knew who the kids involved were, so we focused our efforts on them. For example, we would knock on their doors late at night to check they were home.
"We have locked most of them up now."
Insp Roberts also put the reduction in crime down to The Aston Project, which was set up in memory of the late PC Lynn Aston. It provides youngsters with work placements and fun activities. He added that his team were "really pleased" with the latest crime figures.
He said: "Historically we are one of the areas where officers do not want to go and work, but now the morale here is fantastic and we are really proud of what we are doing."
The latest crime statistics for Gloucestershire from April 1 to October 30, compared to the same period last year, showed reductions across the Cheltenham area.
In Cheltenham South overall crime was down 21 per cent with home burglaries down 63 per cent.
In the Tewkesbury district there was a 15 per cent overall crime reduction, with break-ins down 11 per cent.
In the Cotswolds, there was a 12 per cent overall reduction in crime, with home burglaries down 13 per cent.
The number of home break-ins only increased in the Forest of Dean and Stroud.