BURGLARS, car thieves and metal raiders are being targeted as part of a major crime crackdown.
Around 170 people have been arrested, 84 people have been charged and 55 search warrants have been carried out across Blackpool and the Fylde coast.
Officers carried out searches at a property in Norcross and a house in the Bloomfield area of central Blackpool yesterday, as part of Operation Lockdown to clamp down on burglaries, metal thefts and auto crime.
Metal thieves have struck at a number of homes in Bispham – in some cases ripping out gas pipes into pensioners’ homes.
Det Chief Insp Brian Quinn, of Blackpool police, said: “The operation is targeting people who commit crime in our communities, particularly acquisitive crime, and illicit property market handlers who profit from victims’ misery.
“Since the operation was launched in December we have carried out 55 search warrants across Western Division and 170 individuals have been arrested. We have also seen a sizeable increase in the amount of intelligence around acquisitive crime.
“We have been reducing crime in Blackpool for the last five years and we want to keep it down.”
Cannabis and vallium were found following a raid at a house on Woolman Road in Blackpool yesterday morning after police received a tip off drugs were being exchanged for stolen goods.
Raids on Moorland Road and Cross Street in St Annes uncovered suspected stolen bikes, satellite navigation devices and a projector.
A property on Fleetwood Road in Norcross was also searched by a team of officers yesterday but no stolen property was discovered.
The operation was launched after 42 more homes in Blackpool and Fylde were burgled during October, November and December last year compared to 2010.
Homes being left unlocked in the Bispham area has led to “easy target” burglaries taking place and around 50 per cent of all car break-ins in Fylde have been due to the vehicle being left unlocked.
And metal thieves have begun ripping copper pipes from gas mains at the homes of vulnerable pensioners.
In Bispham, officers have stepped up night-time patrols in a bid to catch offenders who are targeting properties while householders are sleeping.
Sgt Jo Jackson, from Bispham police station, said: “Some offenders are leaving the gas flowing which is an obvious danger.
“We’re working to find out who is taking the metal and where it’s going. Areas of Bispham were mainly hit in December and there have been more this month.
“I can’t understand the mentality behind it – targeting 80 or 90-year-olds and leaving them without heating when it’s cold.
“We’re suggesting people use black paint cover the pipes, move the pipes inside if they can or paint them.
“We have officers on duty at night so please give us a ring if you hear anything suspicious.”
Copper piping was cut from a pensioner’s home on Northgate in Bispham between 9pm on January 8 and 10am the following day.
And on the same night copper piping was also removed from the external utilities box for a property around the coroner on Bromsgrove Avenue. Residents at a property on Blackpool Road in Bispham had to call out engineers to make their gas supply safe after 20ft of copper piping was cut from a gas meter supply overnight on January 8.
In Thornton, cabling and industrial switches have been stolen from Red Marsh industrial estate and Hill House business park while in Fleetwood, 1.5 tonnes of metal was stolen from a building site on Fleetwood promenade last week.
The offenders knocked over the metal fencing which was securing the site close to the beach on Princesway before removing 14 metal sheets of metal worth in the region of £3,000.
Police also report burglars have managed to steal phones, televisions and sat navs from unlocked homes or vehicles.
A thief entered a property on Walney Place in Grange Park through an unlocked front door on Sunday and stole a £400 Samsung television.
On the same day, an unlocked kitchen door at a house on Tarnbrook Drive in Grange Park allowed a burglar to steal a driving licence and a mobile phone.
Detectives are now advising residents to think like a burglar or thief to protect their home from becoming an easy target.
Det Con Sean Bullen, from Blackpool burglary team, said: “If someone has invaded your home, it can be distressing.
“It can cause people anxiety and affect people for the rest of their lives.
“Burglars want minimal fuss when they are selecting a target, which is why homes left unlocked, or where people are out so their activities will go unnoticed, are ideal for them.
“A number of simple crime prevention measures can be put in place to stop your home being broken into but time and time again we are called out to homes where doors have been left unlocked or valuables have been left on display to provide temptation to passing thieves.
“You need to think like a burglar to beat the burglar.”
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