Within the last number of weeks the North Down area has been hit by a Christmas crime wave that has affected local businesses, home owners and car owners.
These incidents comes weeks after the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot wrote to residents of North Down emphasising that ‘overall crime is now at its lowest for many years with burglaries and robberies down’.
In the last three weeks at least 10 hand bags have been stolen from cars in Holywood, a local business and homes in Bangor were robbed, and a car was stolen in Newtownards.
Police say they are investigating a number of handbag thefts from cars in North Down. They say as many as ten cars have been targeted in the Holywood area over the last three weeks.
A police spokesperson said: “Cash has been taken and in some cases the handbag has been left near the scene. The thieves are smashing windows in the vehicles to steal what is inside.”
Police believe the thieves are specifically targeting cars that have been parked by members of the community who have gone for walks in secluded areas, and that they may be using a vehicle.
Officers are advising anyone who parks their car before going for a walk to make sure it is empty of all belongings, and to report any suspicious activity or vehicles nearby.
Three domestic burglaries and a robbery of a shop took place in Bangor last week, leading to local representatives and police warning residents to secure their houses and be vigilant of criminals.
The three burglaries took place on December 6 in Ballymacormick, Gransha Road and Carnalea. Two were in cul-de-sacs and in one a 42' television was taken.
Gordon Dunne MLA said: “These areas are quiet residential areas, and the news of these burglaries will come as a shock to many.
“This again reinforces the need for an on the ground police presence. As we approach Christmas, I would urge the people of North Down to be extra vigilant as unfortunately there are those out there, who would seek to commit such serious crimes. I would appeal to anyone with any information on these incidents to bring them to the PSNI immediately,” he added.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “ These crimes are opportunistic in nature and to help ensure you don’t become a victim, we would appeal to everyone to close all windows before leaving the house and lock the front door, even if you are only planning on going to the corner shop or popping into a neighbour’s house.”
The shop that was robbed was on Church Road in Bangor, and DUP MLA Alex Easton said: “I totally condemn those responsible for this burglary. This burglary happened in the early hours of Friday (December 2) and I appeal to anyone with information to pass it onto the PSNI immediately.
“Behind this shop is someone seeking to earn an honest living in very difficult times. This is someone who deserves respect, who offers a service to the local community and this can only be described as an attack on the local community.”
Police say they are stepping up patrols to deal with this form of criminal activity.
Anyone who has seen anything suspicious should contact police 0845 600 8000.