“We’re wearing balaclavas at 2am to collect a vape off a friend.”
That was the response of a suspect who was caught red-handed as part of an operation to target opportunist burglars in Newton Aycliffe this month.
Operation Quail was launched collectively by Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Policing Team, South CID and Response officers following concerns from the community that thieves were targeting homes in specific areas of the town.
Plain clothes officers were deployed to these hotspot areas for patrols and, after a call from a resident reporting suspicious activity, they came across two teenagers in the garden of a property in Hallington Head, just after 2am, on August 11.
The boys, aged 13 and 16, were found with two pairs of bolt croppers, balaclavas and gloves but claimed they had made the journey from Ferryhill so they could collect a vape from an associate.
They were subsequently arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal and taken into custody.
The story changed again in interview when the older boy claimed he had been offered £30 to sell his bolt croppers and thought the best time to do this was in the middle of the night. He would not tell officers who he was selling them to.
Both boys are currently on police bail with conditions not to enter Newton Aycliffe.
Thankfully, there have been no further burglary incidents reported in the area.
Inspector Sarah Honeyman praised residents for reporting suspicious activity that allowed the targeted operation to take place.
“I want to thank residents for their continued commitment to report any suspicious activity that allowed us to be so specific in this operation which helps us target our resources to any identified hotspot areas,” she said.
“Thankfully since these arrests, we have had no further reports of burglaries this month and we will continue to pursue those who commit crime in our town.”
Seen something suspicious in your neighbourhood?
Report it by calling 101 or use our Live Chat here: 101 Live Chat (durham.police.uk)
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.