Leeds & West Yorkshire

Burglar abuses Leeds victims in letter

Burglar's letter
Image caption Police said the letter was not passed on to the burglar's victims

A convicted teenage burglar who was forced to write a letter of apology to a family whose home he targeted has abused his victims in writing.

West Yorkshire Police said the thief, who cannot be named, wrote the letter describing the family as "stupid" and blamed them for the burglary.

Ch Insp Melanie Jones said the letter was "cold and dispassionate" and was not passed to the victims in Leeds.

The 16-year-old thief was recently given an intensive supervision order.

Ch Insp Jones said the decision was taken to release the letter, written as part of the order he was given, as a warning to householders to secure their properties.

Burglaries increase

In September it emerged that more than £1.3m was to be spent by Leeds City Council over four years to reduce the number of burglaries.

The city was criticised by the Audit Commission for its burglary levels in 2009-10.

Despite improvements in 2010-11 the city had 8,869 burglaries, the third highest rate in England and Wales.

In 2010, more than 1,600 individuals were arrested for one or more burglary offences.

But the figures for burglary were not distributed evenly across the city.

The biggest yearly increase of 28% was experienced in Chapel Allerton.

Armley, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill also saw high increases in burglary.

West Yorkshire Police said half of all burglaries in the city were as a result of properties being insecure.

'Illuminate your property'

Ch Insp Jones said: "The contents of the letter are disgusting but it does highlight the cold and dispassionate way burglars select a property to target.

"The most straightforward thing is to remember to lock your door when you're in the house and keep downstairs windows closed, particularly if you're out of the house or in another room.

"At this time of year, and with it being dark by late afternoon, it's really worth investing a few pounds in a timer switch to illuminate your property and give the impression someone's at home.

"If you have a house alarm, please remember to set it during the night and not just when the property is empty.

"Other simple measures include closing curtains when it's dark, removing any valuables from near windows and doors and hiding car keys.

"It's also worth remembering that a number of insurance companies will no longer settle claims when a property has been left insecure.

"We are working hard to target and reduce burglary, but the biggest impact we can make is by working together to ensure burglars are not given a series of easy targets."

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