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'Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home' as burglary figures soar, the echo looks at its toll on victims.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE By JOE THOMAS Crime Reporter joe.thomas@trinitymirror.com @joe_thomas18

A BURGLARY epidemic is sweeping Merseyside.

Government crime data revealed there were 8,625 "domestic burglaries" reported to Merseyside Police in the 12 months to September 2017.

That was said to be a rise on the year before, but came before the winter months that typically see burglars at their worst.

Now a special ECHO investigation has revealed the toll this kind of crime takes on ordinary householders with presents stolen, cars taken and families left locked out of their own homes as breaks ins by thieves operating from Huyton to Waterloo spike.

The ECHO has now examined the statistics and spoken with victims and those trying to help them in a bid to highlight just how devastating such incidents can be.

Investigation A request for anecdotal experiences from the ECHO led to readers complaining of a rise in almost every area of Merseyside.

Merseyside Police has issued public appeals following distraction burglaries (where victims, typically elderly, are distracted or lied to by thieves trying to enter their homes) from Wirral to St Helens.

Confrontational burglaries - where victims are threatened or assaulted - have seen children and adults face thugs wielding screwdrivers, a shotgun and a machete in West Derby, Old Swan and Tuebrook.

Walton MP Dan Carden told the ECHO the subject of burglaries was a significant concern.

He criticised the Government for slashing police budgets and said: "When people hear reports of burglaries in their area it can affect them deeply, everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home.

Merseyside continue those who burglary public continue such crimes. Merseyside Commissioner "Crime is rising across Merseyside and people across north Liverpool often see the worst effects first. Burglaries are a returning issue in Walton." For those hit, the experiences have been terrifying.

Several came forward to tell the ECHO not just what had happened to them, but in the hope of showcasing to those responsible how their actions were still hurting their lives.

Those who would speak would often only do so on condition of anonymity, such was the impact of what had happened.

One mum, a carer from the Childwall area, recalled: "Bank cards, mobile phones, iPads were missing. I had some stuff in my car - old Army mess kits and my husband's dress uniform.

My passport was taken and the cards had been used."

The incident left her unable to travel to work and having to fork out for a new passport, insurance excess fees and new security measures.

Her stolen car was found but the uniform of her husband - who served two tours of Afghanistan - and everything else was gone.

Yet the financial cost paled in comparison to how it hurt her young family. She added: "There were four of them. Four people were in my house while my children were upstairs. I really don't sleep now and it has had a massive impact. I can't put into words how it violates your home and affects your children."

Others told how they were burgled on Christmas Eve, and how burglars pulled the chain across the front door - so when they returned their victims were locked out.

They also expressed frustration at the ability of police to prevent or investigate such crimes.

Many understand Merseyside Police has suffered budget cuts that have left the force suffering a loss of resources.

But this has not eased their concerns.

The sister of one victim told the ECHO: "Five hours it took them to respond. We are trying to defend the police but it is difficult. This is a frightening epidemic and it's not getting better."

Police will to pursue commit and the should to report all crimes Police Jane Kennedy Police chiefs have long warned cuts would hurt the ability to respond to crimes such as burglaries.

Reflecting on recent incidents, Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "The chief constable and I have discussed, and share concerns about, the challenge that burglaries are presenting to Merseyside Police. It has been discussed at the last two performance inspections that I hold with chief officers and I am also receiving similar concerns from the public.

"By March we will have lost 1,100 police officers. This has inevitably caused the police response to be affected.

"Nonetheless, Merseyside Police will continue to pursue those who commit burglary and the public should continue to report all such crimes to the police."

| Crime prevention information can be found on the Merseyside Police website.

You can report burglary offences via the force's social media desk @Mer-POLCC, calling 101, or call 999 if a crime is in progress.

'These scumbags need to be caught' ONE mum spoke in detail of her ordeal at the hands of thieves: "They came into the house, took a few coats and belongings and the car keys and stole our car and vandalised the other car to get it out of the way of the driveway.

"It was a very frightening experience and we were in a hotel for two days. I urge everybody to double check your locks etc.

"These scumbags need catching and have taken a man who serves our country's car with lots of sentimental stuff inside, including children's designer coats."

Merseyside Police will continue to pursue those who commit burglary and the public should continue to report all such crimes Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy

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TOMORROW: The ECHO examines the criminal tactics underpinning the burglary crisis - and the security measures that can help you deter thieves
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 12, 2018
Words:924
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