Travelling thieves who cruise Airedale’s outlying homes and villages in search of easy pickings are being harried by a new team of detectives, on the orders of Bradford’s police chief.

Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin has set up a team of senior officers to tackle the menace of roving thieves, who prey on rural properties.

Concerns about clear-up rates for property burglaries were raised by a recent report to the Shipley Area Committee, which showed detection rates were well below the West Yorkshire and national averages.

Official Home Office statistics for 2012 set a national detection rate of 13.3 per cent of all burglaries.

Force-wide figures for West Yorkshire produced a detection rate of 17.8 per cent of all dwelling burglaries for the year up until October 2013. But in Bingley and Worth, where there were 169 house burglaries in the year until October – a rise of 72 on the previous year – the detection rate was only five per cent.

The removal of CID officers from Keighley has prompted questions about local crime policies.

“We have brought detectives into Bradford to make things more efficient,” Chief Supt Atkin explained.

“They are now in two main hubs – one in Trafalgar House, who specialise in burglaries from dwellings and robberies, and another in Javelin House, who deal with violent crime, firearms and sex offences.

“And we now have a dedicated team investigating travelling criminals, who target the more remote areas, like those in Airedale.

“They are working with other teams in Kirklees and Calderdale, and are already starting to make a difference. For example, we recently picked up three men who were linked to a string of crimes around Keighley and Bingley. Even though it meant sending officers to London to get the suspected leader, we did that and he is now behind bars as they await trial.”

Ward councillor for Bingley, David Heseltine, said he welcomed the new assault on rural burglary. “Some folk perceive certain areas to be affluent and somehow fair game.

“It’s good they are giving resources to tackle these little beggars. The more they can do to apprehend the types who pick places like Eldwick or Cullingworth, the better,” said Coun Heseltine, who chairs the Shipley Area Committee.

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