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London-area residents spooked by raids by moped-driving burglars

Feb. 14, 2014 at 12:13 PM

LONDON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Residents of an upscale London suburb say they have spent tens of thousands of dollars on heightened security after a series of raids by moped-driving burglars.

The break-ins are believed to have started in September and have struck 12 homes in Hampstead Garden suburb since Christmas, the London Evening Standard reported Friday.

In hopes of deterring other burglaries, residents have added iron bars to windows, reinforced doors with steel bars and installed fences topped with spikes.

"Most of my conversations with my neighbors now are about security lights, locks and alarms," said one resident who has witnessed two of the burglaries. "Where will it all end?"

Police have increased patrols in the neighborhood, "but people are very nervous and worried of going out and even being in because [the burglars] seem to be able to ram in the front door," said Mike Freer, who represents the area in Parliament.

The thieves seem to have adapted to the changes in the neighborhood, he added.

"On mopeds they can drive on pavements and weave in and out of cars and the police cannot put pedestrians and members of the public at risk so it's proving quite difficult," Freer said.

Detective Inspector Paul Murray of Scotland Yard said the number of burglaries had declined in recent weeks. However, he advised residents to be proactive in protecting their homes by ensuring they had a sturdy front door with good locks, keeping gates closed and locked and installing a chain or gate on their driveway.

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