A growing South Yorkshire Police initiative that helps to prevent and tackle break-ins has led to a 42 per cent reduction in burglaries in one area of Sheffield. As part of Operation Shield, officers have been working with residents across Gleadless Valley since October last year.
Six months on, there has been a dramatic reduction in burglaries in the area and the initiative, which uses a pioneering forensic liquid to mark property, has reached the milestone of safeguarding its 1,000th home.
Operation Shield sees SYP officers visiting homes and working with residents to mark their valuables with a unique forensic solution. The liquid, which is invisible to the human eye, registers property to a specific location. The liquid can also be used as a gel or spray, intended to mark offenders who are in the act of committing a crime. This then makes offenders, and any items they have stolen, much easier to trace.
Officers have been spending up to an hour with residents talking through the benefits of the initiative and ensuring valuables are properly marked. Signs and stickers have been distributed in ‘Shielded’ areas across the valley, acting as a deterrent to potential burglars for fear of being marked with the liquid.
Visits are often carried out in partnership with Sheffield City Council, the local Tenants & Residents Association (TARA) and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. This collaborative approach means that residents are not only safeguarded against unwanted intruders, but they’re also able to get their smoke alarms tested and hear fire prevention advice, speak to housing officers and learn more about what’s going on in their local area.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Berry said: “We are one of the first forces in the country to implement this initiative using face to face and partnership engagement. Not only have we done it, I’m proud of the relationships our officers have built along the way. Neighbourhood officers have spent countless hours in communities, making sure properties are thoroughly registered and homes are equipped with Op Shield markers.
“The markers we put in place around the home and on valuables mean that thieves are much more likely to be deterred from entering a property. If they still want to take that risk, they are much more likely to be caught, identified and punished.”
Officers have shown over 60 frequent offenders the science behind how the liquid actually works and how easily it can ‘mark’ them, without them even knowing.
DCI Berry continued: “The solution remains on the skin or hair for weeks after the event and will stay on footwear and clothing even longer. Every custody suite is equipped with specialist lamps, so anyone who is arrested anywhere in South Yorkshire will be checked for traces of the liquid and our officers can tell exactly where it’s been picked up.”
Due to its success, Operation Shield is expanding and will now move to the Meersbrook and Heeley areas of the valley.
If you’re a resident in Heeley or Meersbrook and would like to learn more about safeguarding your home, please contact your local Neighbourhood officers on Sheffieldshield@southyorks.pnn.police.uk or private message us at www.facebook.com/sheffsouthwestnhp with your address and a contact number.
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