Travelling gang behind pre-dawn burglary spate
Police have warned of a travelling group of criminals after revealing a spate of 17 burglaries in the past four days.
Superintendent Muir Clark said there had been a spike in homes targeted in the Newtownabbey area of Co Antrim.
He told the BBC's Nolan Show: "In the last number of days there has been a group of travelling criminals operating in the Glengormley area taking cars and property."
He described them as "young men" and believed they were using stolen cars to get around.
The senior officer said he himself had been a victim of burglary in the past.
"It is a terrible, terrible experience and I don't want anyone else to suffer," he added.
Superintendent Clark said police had an operation ongoing to catch the thieves, who usually operated between the hours of 2.30am and 5.30am.
Police have also installed temporary electronic signs in the areas affected to warn people of the danger.
Mr Clark added: "If it looks suspicious it probably is. Lift the phone and report it to us.
"A lot of burglaries are opportunistic, so help us help you.
"Lock up after you and check you have done so before you go to bed."
The police officer revealed that in his area the clearance rate for burglaries was 8.6%.
He said he "expected" that rate to improve.
"There are people who know who is doing this and they need to contact us," he added.
"Also, there are those people who are handling the stolen goods and I would ask them to contact us and tell them who is giving them the goods."
A police spokesman said that on Monday five break-ins were reported in Hillcrest Drive, Church Road, Glebe Villas and Cherrylands between the hours of 2.30am and 5.30am.
Four attempts were also made on other homes.
The following night another five homes were entered in Blackrock Park, Alderly Place and Aylesbury Court.
Again, all of the incidents are thought to have occurred between 2.30am and 5.30am. On Wednesday two burglaries during the early hours were reported in Glenmount Drive and Longlands Avenue, with a further attempted burglary in Ballyhenry Park.
On Thursday night two homes were targeted, one in The Poplars and the other on Knockview Road.
The police spokesman added: "Burglary is a priority for police within the Antrim and Newtownabbey area and we are working hard to build on the reduction we saw in November and address this recent spate."