Police are urging people to be vigilant following an increase in the number of domestic burglaries in Cheshire in which gold seems to have been targeted.
The latest incidents saw homes in Widnes and Warrington burgled on Chinese New Year – Friday 16 February.
At approximately 7.50pm three men wearing balaclavas carried out an aggravated burglary in Wallis Drive, Widnes. They threatened the occupants and stole jewellery before fleeing in a car.
Earlier that day, at around 10am, police received a report of a break-in overnight at a property in Mildenhall Close, Warrington. The alarm box was removed from the outside of the property, which indicates that the burglars used ladders, and jewellery and cash were stolen.
Police are urging anyone with information about either incident to come forward and are particularly keen to speak to a man captured on CCTV using a walkie-talkie outside a property on Dorchester Road in Warrington and attempting to kick open the front door at 7.15pm on Saturday 17 February.
They have released CCTV images of the man, who is described as white with a slim build and was wearing a baseball cap back to front, a fleece, gloves and Nike trainers.
Detective Chief Inspector Karen Jaundrill said: “We are doing all we can to catch those responsible and are keen to hear from anyone who recognises the man in the CCTV image or has any other information that they think may help us with our investigations.
“There has been a rise in burglaries in which family gold seems to have been targeted in Cheshire in recent months.
"We believe that those responsible are highly organised and are possibly travelling into the county from further afield to target properties they believe are likely to contain gold.
“It is therefore crucial that the police, its partners and residents work together to make life as difficult as possible for the criminals.”
There are a number of simple steps you can take to help protect your valuable jewellery:
- Make sure that all your windows and doors and kept locked, especially when you are out.
- Ensure that your home looks ‘lived in′, even if you are out. Consider using timer switches for lights to give the impression that someone is at home.
- Keep jewellery in a safe and secure place when it is not being worn − thieves have been known to look everywhere in homes for valuable items.
- Ensure that your jewellery is insured.
- Keep good records of all the jewellery that you own − make a list and include photographs. If your jewellery is stolen this will make it much easier for it to be identified as yours should it be recovered.
- Consider installing a safe if your jewellery is particularly valuable. Ensure it is securely fitted to a permanent structure such as a solid wall or floor.
- Security measures such as a home security alarm or security marking system can deter thieves from targeting a property.
- Be wary when answering the door to unexpected or uninvited visitors and always ask to see identification. If you are unsure of the validity of the caller then contact the organisation they are claiming to be from. Genuine callers will not mind you doing this.
- Consider signing up to Operation Shield − property can be marked with a unique forensic liquid which links it with your home, meaning that if it is taken police can return it to you when it is recovered.
- Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity at your neighbours’ properties when they are out or away.
- Report any suspicious activity to the police.
Anyone with any information about the incidents in Widnes or Warrington or any other burglaries in which gold seems to have been targeted is urged to call Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more advice on keeping your home safe and secure visit www.cheshire.police.uk or call 101 and ask to speak to your local crime reduction advisor.