Police braced for winter crime spree

A winter crime spree that could increase the number of burglaries across the country by 26 per cent is due to start at dusk on Monday, research suggests.

Data from 16 police forces across the UK during the critical period between the newly darkened evenings from Hallowe'en to Bonfire Night last year showed a huge surge in the number of reported burglaries compared with the average of the other 51 weeks of 2010. The highest increase was in Strathclyde, where police saw a rise of 57 per cent against the average weekly total.

The research, compiled by Aviva, corresponds with a 28 per cent increase in burglary claims for Bonfire Night over the last 10 years, making it the worst night of the year for break-ins. "Shorter days present more opportunities for criminals to work under cover of darkness," says Rob Townend, property claims director at Aviva. "On Bonfire Night in particular, many people are out of the house at public displays or at parties and the noise of fireworks provides a distraction and means that suspicious sounds such as smashing glass aren't heard."

Those in Staffordshire may enjoy their evening of fireworks a little more however, as burglary rates actually dropped by 3 per cent during the week of Bonfire Night in 2010, the figures show.