Police campaign drives thieves out

Front - Sgt Mike Roddy Back - Local CID Officers Bryn Smith, Jade Hewitt, Rebecca McCamley and Nic Martin
Front - Sgt Mike Roddy Back - Local CID Officers Bryn Smith, Jade Hewitt, Rebecca McCamley and Nic Martin

A major police crackdown against gangs of burglars targeting homes in Banbury and Bicester has succeeded in driving them out of the area, police officers have stated.

Operation Justified was set up in the autumn after a spike of 25 house burglaries in the Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Local Policing Areas in which thieves stole a quarter of a million pounds of high value goods such as jewellery, cash and electrical goods.

Despite just one out of 13 arrested men so far being charged for the burglaries, officers say the crime spike has levelled off.

DS James Bonner, who has spearheaded the operation since the departure of DS Steve Birchall in November, said: “It was certainly an exceptional level of offending, but the arrests made seemed to stamp it out and we’ve not had any spikes of criminality since then.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to secure charges but we made a number of proactive operations which had the result of dispersing the offending.”

Police believe the gangs targeted by the ongoing operation were travelling to Banbury from as far afield as Birmingham and South Wales, often in stolen vehicles. DS Bonner said the operation is now focusing on eradicating burglary from the area completely, and appealed to residents to report anything suspicious.

He said: “We will jump on any suspicious looking vehicles we see and if members of the public see anything suspicious in their neighbourhood, they should call us straight away.”

He added residents should keep their properties well lit at all times, use light timers when out and keep cars parked on the driveway to deter would-be burglars, as well as reporting sightings of suspicious vehicles or people.

The latest figures for dwelling burglary in the Cherwell and West Oxon LPA show a 
1.9 per cent reduction in the crime compared to the previous year.