The public meeting at Osbaston Church in Wales Primary School on Friday afternoon (6th February) was extremely well attended. There were around 200 people present, which underlines the concerns and fears of local residents. I am very grateful to everyone who turned up because it is important that the police are aware of just how worried we all are.
Chief Inspector Matthew Williams, Head of Neighbourhood Policing, was there. He was joined by Detective Inspector Andrew Tuck, who is leading the investigation. I chaired the meeting.
It was confirmed that the area is being systematically targeted by a criminal gang which may also be operating in other areas of the country. So far, no DNA has been recovered. However, after a recent assault on one resident who saw a suspicious car, the police obtained an item which could reveal DNA evidence.
Gwent Police are talking with forces in other parts of the UK who are experiencing a similar pattern of offences. In addition, an outside group of expert officers who specialise in solving crimes like this are looking at the whole investigation to see what further action can be taken.
There is currently a very strong police presence in Osbaston with officers patrolling in and out of uniform. We want to ensure these high numbers continue until those responsible are caught.
The police have also put in place covert measures to increase the chances of an arrest. They do not wish to publically disclose the exact nature of these measures in order to avoid alerting the burglars, although officers have explained them to me.
It would appear the burglars are working in a group of four or five to target houses early in the evening and shortly after dark. They usually gain access from the rear of the property, often by breaking a window. The police believe they may be driving around during the day in order to look for suitable houses.
Residents are being urged to try and avoid making it too obvious if they are not at home, and to keep an eye out for any groups of men walking or driving around in a suspicious manner. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately to the police by calling 101. They have stated they will respond quickly to calls in the Osbaston area.
It is very likely that some of us have unknowingly seen this gang walking or driving about. They may even be knocking on people’s doors with a false pretence in order to check the property is empty. It is therefore vital that we all write down descriptions of any unknown callers, even if they seem genuine. Please make a note of their appearance, in particular their approximate age, build, hair colour, the clothes they are wearing and where you have seen them. Please also note the time and date you saw them and if they were with anyone else.
If you see any suspicious vehicles in the area, please make a note of the vehicle type, colour, and registration number if possible and where it was parked or driving.
I can assure you I will continue to hold regular discussions with the police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent until the gang are caught.