FAMILIES across Oxford are being urged to protect their homes against thieves taking advantage of the summer heatwave.

As temperatures are soaring, so is the threat of opportunistic burglars using open windows and unlocked doors to enter houses and take people's belongings.

In Oxford there is an average of between one and two burglaries per day.

Two burglaries in the space of four days last week - one in Barton and another in Risinghurst - involved open doors and windows.

  • Thieves walked into a home via an open front door in Grovelands Road, in Risinghurst, sometime between 9.30am and 9.45am on Friday, July 13. 

While inside, the raiders went into the living room and stole a handbag containing bank cards and cash before making their escape

  • Just a few days later, another burglary took place in Sherwood Place, in Barton.

On this occasion, the raiders crawled through a small window that had been left open at some point between 10pm and 11pm on Monday, July 16.
When they were inside, they again targeted a purse, making off with some cash. 

Like the first offence, police cannot confirm how many people were involved.
Oxford Mail:


One of the city’s top police officers has encouraged people to do what they can to secure their homes – while warning Oxford’s burglars they will face justice eventually.

Acting Inspector Neil Applegarth, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing for Oxford, spoke to the Oxford Mail about the seasonal change in burglary.

He said that, while Oxford has a relatively low burglary rate when placed within the national or even continental context, the summer months bring about their own unique challenges.

And police in the city named burglary one of their top priorities at the start of the year.

Mr Applegarth said: “The opportunist threat definitely increases in the summer – and the insecure threat [of burglars taking advantage of unlocked or open door and windows] also increases.

“Burglary is a horrific thing. For everybody who gets burgled it is just miserable.”


Residential burglaries across the Thames Valley rose from 4,962 in 2016/17 to 5,744 in 2017/18 - an increase of 15.8 per cent.

According to crime statistics, there were 173 burglaries in Oxford between June 2017 and May 2018. Between that period burglary made up just over 3 per cent of all crime in the city.


Criminals who specialise in burglaries, Mr Applegarth said, are prevented from re-offending in a number of ways – including effective investigations and 're-offender management'.

The Inspector is confident that, with these methods, Thames Valley Police would catch up to most burglars in the end.

He said: “Typically we’ve got a good idea who our burglars are because they’re often repeat offenders and they fit a certain demographic and lifestyle.

“They often specialise, in a criminal sense, in burglary. They often have a particular MO. There are those who use forced bodily pressure, so they boot a door in. There are those who lever a door with a spade stolen from the garden shed. There are those who attack a certain type of window. So we often have a good idea of who our offenders are.

“In my experience we tend to catch burglars in the end. They manage to do a number of burglaries and then they get caught and we can link them back. They leave all sorts of marks in all sorts of ways and eventually we catch up with them.”

But one of the most effective ways of combating burglary is educating the public on how best to secure their homes.

Officers across the county have, in recent weeks, been sending out information about making a property unappealing to intruders.

Much of the advice is common sense – ensuring that doors and windows stay closed and locked, for example.

Other solutions to making the home burglar-proof are a little more high tech.

Mr Applegarth continued: “We’ve had some really good successes recently through the increase in internet live cameras and doorbell cameras.

“The live link ones have given us live information of a burglary happening right there and then.

“Somebody can have a video camera rigged up somewhere in their house that triggers their phone when there’s movement detected and it starts to stream live video.

"They can actually ring us and say: ‘There’s someone in my house right now’.

Some methods of a defence don't depend on technology - but do require a little more thought.

Mr Applegarth continued: "One important thing is not leaving the key in the door on the other side. One reason is a thief can smash a window and go for the key.

"The other thing some burglars do is if they enter your home through, say, a front window, then they will go to a door at the back and open it so they have a rapid exit and they’ll deadlock your front door.

"So if you come home you’re delayed because you’re thinking 'why is my key not working' and they’re long gone out the back door.

"But if you haven’t left a key in the back door, then they wouldn’t be as keen on staying in your house because they haven’t been able to secure their exit."

While opportunistic burglaries may be on the up during the summer, Mr Applegarth was keen to point out that it is very unlikely an individual will become a victim of burglary – particularly in Oxford.

He said: “Burglary is rare. Proper burglary where somebody turns your whole house over is rare even amongst burglaries.

“And then a creeper break [a burglary that takes place while the victims are in the house] is just ridiculously rare.

“And then the very extreme end is where you get confrontational burglary. And they are just insanely rare. So there is kind of a scale.”