Police in Sussex, Surrey, Thames Valley and Kent are working together to target cross-county burglars as the clocks go back.
For the first time, officers from each force are co-ordinating activities during a three-week burglary campaign to catch offenders and educate residents to try to prevent them from becoming victims.
Officers regularly liaise with colleagues across the region about individual offenders or crime gangs but in the past ran operations at different times of the year – opening the possibility that burglars simply switched their attention to homes across the border during the campaigns.
This year a co-ordinated approach means that one campaign will stretch from Chichester in the west to Margate in the east and as far north as Milton Keynes – an area of more than 5,600 square miles and more than six million people.
The campaign is being run between 27 October and 16 November because in recent years the region has experienced a rise in reports of burglary in that period.
A combined total of 2,645 burglaries were reported in that period in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Thames Valley in 2012 and 2013 – up 3.5 per cent from the 2,555 burglaries reported in the three weeks prior to those periods.
Detective Chief Inspector Tanya Jones from Sussex Police said: “Burglary is a priority for us because we know what an impact this crime type has on people. The emotional effect of burglary, for many, is often far more devastating than the loss of their belongings.
“This campaign sees us working with our partners, including other police forces, to reduce burglary at a time of year when we know it traditionally increases.
“You can get involved by joining your local Neighbourhood Watch, visiting our website and registering your property on immobilise.com.
“I would also urge anyone who notices people acting suspiciously in their area or vehicles that look out of place to report them. Your information could be what is needed to get a gang of burglars off the streets.
“Together we can, and will, tackle burglary.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has welcomed the campaign.
She said: “Burglars don’t respect borders. That is why I am pleased to see Sussex Police and its neighbouring forces taking this imaginative approach and working more effectively together to help beat burglary.”
If you see or hear a burglary taking place call 999 immediately.
Residents can also being encouraged to register their items on the world’s largest property database so that if they are stolen, they can be reunited with the owners – and so the offenders can be prosecuted.