Larne community “living in fear” after spate of burglaries

DUP representitive Drew Niblock. INLT 45--006 PSB
DUP representitive Drew Niblock. INLT 45--006 PSB

A Larne councillor says local police are “stretched to capacity” after being approached by a community association with burglary concerns.

Larne Town Councillor Drew Niblock said that he had been approached by members of Tullygarley Community Association who revealed that local residents are “living in fear” amid a spate of burglaries in the last two weeks.

Between February 17 and February 27, homes and garages in Larne’s Bank Road, Glynn Road, Edward Avenue, Wilmuir Crescent and the Roddens area have all fallen victim to burglaries.

Cllr Niblock, a member of Larne PCSP, told The Times: “One family I have heard about are sitting fearful in their own home. They are sitting afraid to go out and nervous when someone comes to the door, and that’s not right.”

While members of the community association have issued advice to residents, Cllr Niblock says the burglary victims have been left “traumatised.”

The elected representative says that he believes the rash of burglaries is due to Larne being left with a “second-class police service.”

He explained: “I believe that this increase shows that there is increasing demand and pressure on Neighbourhood Policing Teams in Larne given that 20 response officers have been taken out of the town and relocated to Ballymena.

“The neighbourhood police are doing their best but they are stretched to capacity, which shows that the service-first policing model is not working in the town.

“The neighourhood police are only working with the resources they have.”

As part of the recently-announced reform of policing, Larne and Ballymena will receive two Local Policing Teams which will provide a 24 hour service to the public.

However, Councillor Niblock says he believes that the reforms “will make matters worse” by placing “additional strain” on the service. He commented: “I am sceptical, it remains to be seen what effect these changes will have on the PCSP.”

He continued: “I am urging residents of Tullygarley to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to the police. This could spread to other parts of the town.

“I am urging residents of Tullygarley and other areas of the town to be aware to keep an eye on their neighbours as well as garages and sheds and to report any anti-social behaviour to the police.”

Meanwhile, Larne police say that they are making burglary a “strategic priority” following the incidents of the past two weeks.

The rash of burglaries began in the early hours of February 17, when a number of garage burglaries took place at homes in the Roddens area.

Two men were arrested and have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Items including a child’s electric scooter, a gent’s Reebok bicycle, hedge trimmers, and a mini moto were stolen during the incident.

This was followed by two burglaries in Edward Avenue and Wilmuir Crescent on the evening of Sunday February 22, when entry was gained by removing a window at the rear of the houses. Jewellery and a small sum of cash were taken.

Detectives said that they are exploring a link between the incidents on that date due to the similar method of entry in both cases.

Most recently, homeowners in the Bank Road and Glynn Road areas fell victim to two burglaries which occurred between 4pm and 4.15pm on the afternoon of Saturday February 27.

The houses were ransacked after entry was gained through the back door. Police are exploring a link between both incidents.

DCI Catherine Magee said that police do not currently believe that there is a link between the incidents which occurred on separate dates.

She stated: “Thefts from sheds and garages are more seasonally common now.

“People may be getting their gardens sorted out or taking their barbecues out.

“We think that people are going around trying garage doors and we have issued crime prevention advice to lock garage and shed doors at all times.”

While the PSNI will not be increasing the number of patrols around Larne following the incidents, DCI Magee says that existing patrols will be briefed to focus on burglaries. She continued: “We are warning the public to be vigilant. Criminals always take the path of least resistance, so make sure that your sheds and garages are locked.”