In recent months, there have been a spate of burglaries across Surrey Heath, and residents are understandably alarmed.
On 23 October 2019, Michael wrote to the Chief Constable of Surrey Police, Gavin Stephens, and received a helpful response from Surrey Heath’s then Borough Commander, Bob Darkens, which is copied below.
'Dear Mr Gove,
I am in receipt of your letter dated the 23rd October to the Chief Constable regarding the increase in burglaries in the Windlesham, Bagshot, Lightwater areas over the last few months.
I am of course very aware of these distressing incidents and they have my fullest attention.
So far we have identified that a number of these burglaries have been committed by the same group of criminals due to the similarities in descriptions, vehicles seen and proximity to other burglaries in the same time frame.
We believe that these are criminals travelling from outside of the area; surrounding forces are experiencing similar increases.
As such we have passed these investigations to a specialist department of detectives for further investigation.
The affected areas have been highlighted to my patrol teams, who when they have the capacity to attend these areas will do so.
We also have plain clothes officers patrolling the area.
Unfortunately with the demand we are experiencing in other areas of business coupled with lack of resources we cannot be everywhere all the time.
I have reached out on social media to the community highlighting the good work of neighbourhood watch and encouraging residents to join or set up a local scheme.
Likewise I have signposted towards home security advice making the borough a hostile environment for burglars to target.
Only with the help of the public can we hope to solve this scourge affecting our community.
With best wishes
Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Commander
Commander Darkens sent this further update on 4 December:
‘Dear Mr Gove,
Unfortunately we are still experiencing higher than average levels of burglary on the borough.
We have it as my number 1 priority for the borough and are doing all we can to catch those responsible.
In the last 31 days we have recorded 49 occurrences as residential burglary which is significantly higher than average.
We are not alone in this spike with surrounding boroughs and force areas seeing similar levels.
A number of significant arrests have been made and colleagues from the Metropolitan Police have likewise arrested a number of suspects.
In total 15 people have been arrested in Surrey Heath and surrounding areas and one further male identified and being sought on suspicion of burglary.
7 of these have been charged and remanded in custody whilst the others have either been bailed or released under investigation whilst enquiries continue.
Officers continue to patrol the affected areas whenever they can, in marked and unmarked vehicles and the investigations into the majority of the offences are being held by a specialist team of detectives.
I do realise the level of angst this issue is causing the residents of Surrey Heath and please be reassured we are doing all we can.
Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Commander
At the beginning of January 2020, Michael met Commander Darkens to discuss policing in the Borough and the challenges that officers are facing. He was assured that the Police are working incredibly hard to catch the criminals responsible.
There are certain practical things that residents can do to help deter burglars, and you will find useful tips and advice on measures to help keep your home safe here.
Michael will continue to monitor the situation closely and is campaigning for more police officers in Surrey Heath, and has welcomed the Government’s plan to recruit 20,000 additional officers.
Michael has been working with Surrey Police's Borough Commander for Surrey Heath, DI Alick James, to help combat burglaries in Surrey Heath. Numbers of burglaries have dropped by 44% over the last month but as Covid restrictions are relaxed, the need for vigilance remains.
But while burglary numbers have dropped car crime is on the rise, there has, particularly, been a big increase the theft of catalytic convertors from vehicles. Michael has discussed how to deal with the issue with DI Alick James. Alick has confirmed that he has allocated a dedicated officer who is reviewing all the related car crime offences to identify trends and patterns to help inform the police’s patrol plans and investigations.
If you are worried about your catalytic convertor being stolen, there are measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk of theft that can be found here.