POLICE believe teenagers could be responsible for a spate of burglaries in part of York.

Officers are investigating after there were 27 burglaries in the Fishergate area in only six weeks.

Now 1,000 residents have been sent letters warning them to be on their guard.

Sgt Andy Haigh, of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team for the area, said: "Since January 1, there have been 27 burglaries in the area.

"Quite a few have been sneak-ins, but where an instrument has been used to break in it has been a screwdriver. We have contacted the local Neighbourhood watch and asked them to pass out advice to residents."

He said most of the incidents had happened in the early hours of the morning, between about 2am and 6am, and the stolen items included bikes, cash, wallets, computer game consoles and anything else which was easy to sell on.

Sgt Haigh said: "These are not professional criminals. We think they are youths."

A 15-year-old boy has been charged in connection with one of the incidents.

Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Keir Devine said: "Most of these thefts have been opportunist. They are taking things like valuables left on display or bikes left unlocked.

"We are asking residents to please remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.

"In three out of ten burglaries, thieves do not have to use force. They get in through an open door or window."

The 27 burglaries include 23 house break-ins, at two of which the doors had been left unlocked, and some shed and garage burglaries.

Suspected thieves were also disturbed at the Bridge Centre in Danesgate, which provides support to young people who have been excluded from school.

The Safer Neighbourhoods Team for the area are now trying to get funding for crime prevention equipment such as shed alarms, which they will then give out to residents.

Anyone who has concerns about crime in the area can phone a member of the team on 0845 60 60 247 or email yorknpt@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

Protect your property

Residents are advised to take the following steps to protect their property from thieves:1. Windows - in just under a third of burglaries, the thief got into the house through an unlocked window. Make sure your doors and windows are locked, particularly when leaving the house2. Lighting - leave a light on to give the impression there is someone at home. Almost 60 per cent of burglaries take place at night, and 34 per cent happen at the weekend. Time switches can be fitted to operate radios and lights when you are out3. Burglar alarms - visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice. Those connected to a monitoring service are best. Police advise getting specialist advice and several quotes4. Keys - never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat or in a flowerpot - a thief will look there first. If you've moved into a new house, consider changing the back and front door locks because other people may still have keys that fit. Never leave keys near a window or door - thieves are increasingly taking car keys so they can steal cars, often by using a hook or magnet on a stick pushed through the letterbox5. Secure all doors - if your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home. Thieves are most likely to target doors when attempting to break in (67 per cent). Check the condition of the frames, hinges and glass panels. Police recommend fitting chains and door viewers6. Make sure no valuables such as laptops or mobile phones are left on display.