Residents living near burglary victims are to be visited by police to help them avoid becoming a target.
Officers and Neighbourhood Watch volunteers across the county have been visiting people living close to the scenes of break-ins within days of the crime to warn them about what has happened, show them how they can make sure their home is secure and gather information that could help catch offenders.
The tactic has been trialled in Hove where a dramatic reduction in burglaries in the area has followed and is now being rolled out across the force.
It is part of Operation Magpie, Sussex Police’s crackdown on burglary across the county.
Inspector Nick Dias said: “Burglars try to maximise the amount they get from their crime while minimising the time they have to find looking for a house to break into and the chance of them being caught.
“By warning local people when there has been a burglary we can not only reduce the chance of them becoming a victim but also force the offender to take more of a risk to commit crime.
“That means the burglar may move to an area they do not know well so they are more likely to leave evidence behind at the scene or to be caught in the act.
“Everyone can help us tackle burglary in Sussex by taking every step possible to keep their home secure. Simple measures like double-locking your front door and using window locks have been proven to be effective deterrents against offenders.
“Also, every burglar we take off the streets means fewer victims of burglary so we would encourage members of the community to contact us if they see anyone acting suspiciously in their area. We can all work together to make Sussex a no-go area for burglars.”
During the 24-week trial in Hove from August 2013, the number of burglaries fell by 51% compared to the same period a year earlier - a drop from 263 to 120.
Across the rest of the force the number of burglaries fell by 21% during the same period.
In Hove, 90% of people visited said they were more likely to report suspicious behaviour to the police after the trial and 70% increased their home security following a visit from police.
The county’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, has welcomed the initiative, which maximises face-to-face contact between the public, the police and community volunteers.
She said: “I know burglary is a concern for local people, not least because it has a deep, personal impact on victims.
“I am pleased to see Sussex Police using innovative crime-fighting techniques that help catch burglars and sees officers working with Neighbourhood Watch to advise the public on how they can protect their property.
“I urge residents to follow this advice to help avoid being affected by burglary.
“I will continue to keep a watchful eye on how the police are tackling this issue.”
John Wright, the chair of Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation, said: “The main aims of Neighbourhood Watch are to prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve safety. It’s about people looking out for each other, crossing barriers of age, race and class to create strong cohesive communities that benefit everyone.
“Neighbourhood Watch acts as the eyes and ears of the community. As a result it has been shown that Neighbourhood Watch areas are far less likely to be targeted by criminals.
“Neighbourhood Watch has been involved in Operation Magpie since it started. I am delighted that we are taking an active part to help our partners in Sussex Police in keeping our homes and streets safe; places where crime cannot flourish, with communities that care.”
If you have any information about burglaries, please call 101 or email email@example.com.
For crime prevention advice visit www.sussex.police.uk.
If you see or hear a burglary taking place call 999 immediately.
To join Neighbourhood Watch please visit www.sussexnwfed.org.ukor speak to your local neighbourhood policing team.