Why so few burglaries are solved
Burglary is one of the hidden fears that disturbs nearly everyone, and recently one of our writers managed to take a photograph of what he believed to be a burglar in action.
He approached police officers who arrived at the scene to inform them of what he had snapped, and was told they would contact him to obtain the pictures which could help with their inquiries.
He waited several days to hear from them, but they still had not made any contact by Wednesday, some five days after the burglary.
It was only yesterday that the PSNI finally contacted our writer, and only after it was made clear that a story was being prepared for the Belfast Telegraph.
This is all against a worrying background where domestic burglaries in south Belfast increased, over a six-month period last year, by more than 50%, to a total of 392. Even more disturbing is the fact that only 7% of the crimes were solved during the same period.
The public will take no comfort from the admission by the Chief Constable that the police do not have the resources to deter crime.
Apparently the best they can do is to try to investigate the crime after it has taken place.
However, from the figures available, it appears the investigation of crimes is not impressive either - with 93% of cases remaining unsolved. The PSNI response to information about a burglar being photographed is not something which will fill anyone with confidence.
People would hate to think that the police, in effect, have thrown in the towel when faced with such a backlog of crimes. Such an attitude would be indefensible, particularly as many of the victims are older people. And who can place an accurate measure on the trauma suffered by those whose homes have been burgled and whose property has been stolen?
This latest example of a burglary, where the culprit has even been photographed, will make people wonder why the police cannot respond swiftly to take evidence from a member of the public who was being a good citizen.
Questions need to be asked about the attitude and efficiency of the police in this important aspect of crime prevention and detection.
It is clear that the public wants more than bland answers to the growing social problem of burglary which worries more and more people.