Crackdown on rural crime in the Vale of Belvoir

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A police operation to put the brakes on travelling criminals and rural crime in the Vale of Belvoir was launched this week.

The latest phase of Leicestershire Police’s Operation Ball has coincided with a surge in house burglaries in villages in the Vale of Belvoir and other parts of Melton borough, with eight break-ins reported within six days.

Among the targeted villages have been Harby, Scalford, Waltham on the Wolds, Nether Broughton, Bottesford and Asfordby. Three of the burglaries – in Scalford, Waltham and Nether Broughton – all happened on Monday night. Two homes in Asfordby and another property in Riverside Close, Bottesford, were all burgled last Tuesday.

Officers suspect travelling criminals are responsible for the spike in crime, deliberately targeting villages off the region’s main roads used to make a quick getaway. It’s these roving, border-crossing criminals police hope to stop in their tracks as a result of Operation Ball.

A range of tactics are being used during the campaign including the use of automatic number plate recognition technology (ANPR) which checks suspect vehicles on a number of different databases. There will also be more officers patrolling rural areas, using both overt and covert tactics, to deter and catch criminals.

Farmers in rural parts of the borough are also being alerted to criminal activity, including via a fast text initiative allowing farmers and police to share information at the press of a button.

Inspector John Gray said: “We will continue to support rural communities by tackling rural crime but they also need to take some responsibility by securing their homes and property.

“Some of the recent burglaries were a result of unsecured premises. People have to start helping themselves by making sure doors and windows are locked and, where possible, to use other crime prevention methods including leaving lights on while they’re out.”

* Crime information to police on 101.