Police have found themselves in the dock after failing to solve a single recent burglary across nearly half of the country.
In 48.2% of England and Wales, no break-ins had been solved in the three years up to March (2023).
More than 80 remained unsolved over the same period in each of the three worst areas in Hampshire, south Yorkshire and south-east London.
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Overall national charging rates for burglary have fallen from 6.7% in 2016 to 3.9% last year.
Rick Muir, head of the think-tank the Police Foundation, said: “In some parts of the country there are some crime types that have become decriminalised because there is absolutely no consequence to committing the crime.
“The length of the sentence doesn’t deter thieves.
“They don’t think about the length of the sentence because they don’t think they will be caught.
“What is proven to affect the likelihood of offending is the chance that you may be caught.
“If you have detection rates so low it means that there is not an effective deterrent to committing these crimes.
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“That is a big problem.’’
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke will this week warn the failure threatens the bond of trust with the public.
Dame Vera Baird, former police, crime and victims’ commissioner and solicitor-general, said: “Every burglary that is not solved means it is going to happen again.
“Without any doubt, burglary is a serial offence. That’s what the police were always telling me.’’
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Data was analysed from 30,100 neighbourhoods – each of which had around 1,500 residents.
The most burgled area was Leeds centre with 446 reported break-ins.
The area with the highest number of unsolved burglaries (84) was Lyndhurst and Minstead in the New Forest.
Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for burglary, said: “We will continue to prioritise preventing these offences, targeting repeat offenders and organised crime groups and solving as many burglaries as we can.
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“All forces are now able to fulfil the commitment made last year by police chiefs to attend all residential burglaries.
“Many forces have dedicated burglary teams to identify links between burglaries and find the evidence that enables offenders to be charged.’’
Rodney Broad, 64, said he would never trust South Yorkshire Police again after they allegedly mishandled a burglary at his garage in Doncaster.
He received a text alerting him his alarm system had detected intruders at about 2am on Sunday.
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Rodney dashed around with son Liam, 32, and caught the burglars ransacking cigarette machines with crowbars.
“I threw a lock at one guy,’’ Rodney said. “I rang 999 but was told to ring 101 as they had left the premises.’’
Cigarettes worth £10,000 were recovered but both burglars fled, with the police turning up over an hour later.
They caused £2,500 of damage but were not caught.
He said of the police: “I would rate their response as one out of 10. When you dial 999 you expect an immediate response.’
South Yorkshire Police had not responded to a request for comment.
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