OFFICERS from South Yorkshire’s roads policing unit have been carrying out night-time patrols as part of their ongoing crime reduction campaign relating to so-called ‘two-in-one’ burglaries in Barnsley after a recent spike.

Houses with high-value cars parked on their driveways in Darton, Mapplewell and Kexborough have been targeted by burglars in the last year and local police have been increasing their work following residents’ complaints at recent crime meetings.

Official police figures showed that numbers hovered around 80 burglaries per month in summer 2018, but those shot up to 144 in January last year, 130 in February and 139 in March – traditional ‘dark nights’ periods – so police have been keen to avoid a repeat in 2020.

However, the policing team responsible for the area revealed a recent spike prompted more action to be taken, which resulted in officers being deployed to patrol key routes this week.

A spokesman added: “There has been a spike in residential burglaries over the last several days. Offenders appear to be trying to enter properties by smashing rear and patio doors, looking for car keys, but no cars have been stolen in the latest burglaries.

“Residents need to ensure they do not leave their car keys on show. Hide them, or take them upstairs and put them out of sight. If they go out and don’t take their car, they should take their keys with them – this is what the burglars are looking for.

“Houses are being targeted when the occupants are out. Police, both neighbourhood officers and response units, are increasing patrols in these areas.”

The force’s helicopter was called for on Monday night after a van failed to stop in Cawthorne and although it was recovered, its occupants got away after it drove through a gate into a farmer’s field.

According to the police, the van – wearing false registration plates – had been stolen from the Swillington area of Leeds on Sunday, a cross-border trend seen previously.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Murphy added: “People fear being burgled because it’s an intrusive crime, but I want to reassure Barnsley’s residents that we’re monitoring those trends, delivering bespoke operations and patrolling

worst-hit locations throughout the day and night.

“It’s our job to allay fears and deliver an appropriate plan to protect those people, who are often vulnerable, from being targeted.

“The two-in-one response has been different to what we’re doing to tackle other burglaries as often cars have been found in West Yorkshire. Criminals travel and we’re aware of that, hence why there’s been and there will continue to be that cross-border work as the darker nights set in.

“It’s vitally important that residents continue to report these crimes to us and although there’s been teething problems with the 101 system since it launched in its revised form, calls are now being answered quicker and it’s a vast improvement.

“It’s also worth mentioning that there are many routes people can take to contact the police, not just 101, so I’d encourage residents to use the online reporting system or contact their local neighbourhood team.”