THE number of residential burglaries in Barnsley has fallen by almost 20 per cent since last year - but police bosses have admitted it’s largely to do with spells of lockdown where residents have been indoors.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Poolman said that during the first national lockdown from March, South Yorkshire Police saw a ‘substantial’ reduction in residential burglaries across the borough, which are defined as burglaries of homes, sheds and outbuildings.

Police say burglars, in some of the most recent cases, have burned through locks in order to gain entry and several Barnsley-registered vehicles - wearing false plates - have been recovered in West Yorkshire.

Increased patrols, both on foot and in marked and unmarked vehicles, have already happened and will continue to form a key part of the West and South Yorkshire forces’ strategies in the coming weeks.

Barnsley officers have been visiting houses identified as having high-value cars parked on driveways and crime prevention advice - such as CCTV, better locks and fitting steering wheel locks - has been delivered.

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“We were able to maintain those low levels in June, July and August,” added Chf Supt Poolman.

“We have proactive patrols in our key areas, every single night.”

Chf Supt Poolman added that Barnsley is vulnerable to criminals travelling into the borough from other areas, especially cross-boarder incidents which have seen a spate in car crime from areas such as Mapplewell, Staincross and Darton into West Yorkshire.

“We are susceptible to cross-border crime, as many areas are, we have a lot of travelling criminality south down the M1 from West Yorkshire, right across the Pennines from Greater Manchester,” she added.

“We’re very conscious of that and are trying to strengthen our control and the arterial road network is important in terms of reducing that criminality.

“We did have a spike in burglary in October, but we reacted to that quickly, and made sure we had a plan in place.”

A police report stated that from April 2019 to March 2020, Barnsley saw a ten per cent reduction in residential burglary, in addition to the 16 per cent reduction achieved in 2018-2019.

“This equates to a 26 per cent reduction in residential burglary over a two-year period,” it added.

“When comparing November 2019 to October 2020 with the same period the previous year, there has been a 17.5 per cent reduction in residential burglary.

“I would like to reassure the public that South Yorkshire Police are doing everything we can to protect the people of Barnsley and prosecute those responsible.

“I would urge residents to report suspicious activity to the police via the police website, 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress. Even the smallest piece of information however seemingly insignificant could prove crucial in bringing criminals to justice.”