Gloucestershire

Burglaries in Cheltenham town centre increase by 66%

Generic burglar
Image caption Police said they were spending "a considerable amount of time and resources" on burglaries

Cheltenham police are trying to get tougher sentences for burglars after a 66% increase in burglaries in the town.

There were 141 burglaries from October to December 2010 compared with 85 for the same period in 2009.

Officers are in talks with Gloucestershire magistrates' courts to classify it as a "prevalent crime", so longer sentences can be given.

The types of things being stolen are laptops, Blackberries, jewellery and silverware.

Det Ch Insp Alastair Stenner, of Gloucestershire Police, said: "It's obviously something we're devoting a considerable amount of time and resources to.

"I think part of it might be tied to the economic climate we find ourselves in. People are looking for easy pickings.

"Part of it might be the unique or unusual dynamics in Cheltenham, where we have lots of affluent areas.

"My personal view is I think we've got a number of individuals who have reached that peak age for being productive burglars."

The Ministry of Justice said the level of harm being caused in the community was key to deciding whether sentences should be enhanced in response to prevalence.

Their guidance is: "Enhanced sentences should be exceptional and in response to exceptional circumstances.

"Sentencers must sentence within the sentencing guidelines once the prevalence has been addressed."

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