DETECTIVES investigating a string of burglaries have made two arrests.
Police are linking up to 28 break-ins – mostly committed in the daytime – across West Oxfordshire.
Officers have now launched Operation Jinxed in a bid to solve the crimes – which all occurred between September 1 and November 13 – and are appealing for witnesses.
Burglaries have taken place in Filkins, Steeple Aston, Leafield, Broadwell, Kingham, Great Rollright, Burford, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Charlbury, Kingham Hill, Bladon, Eynsham, Middle Barton, Woodstock, High Cogges and Witney.
That means there has been a 28 per cent rise in domestic burglaries – from 68 to 87 – in West Oxfordshire from April 1 to November 16, compared to the same period last year.
Det Insp Rob France said: “They are daytime offences, which is really unusual. It is when most people are out working, living their lives or going shopping.
“All involved entry to the rear of the property and the offenders were looking for high-value jewellery, almost always gold.
“You can see they took a route through West Oxfordshire, looking for small rural areas or rural town centres. They have set out with the intention of committing burglaries.”
Police are now stepping up patrols to try to catch the culprits, liaising with neighbouring forces, investigating common features at the different scenes and conducting house-to-house enquiries.
Homeowners are being advised to lock doors and windows, consider fitting outside security lighting and visible alarms, and take photos of valuables and put them in safe places.
Other advice includes using lighting timers if residents are out of the property, placing noisy shingle or gravel on a driveway and planting spiky hedges under windows.
A 34-year-old man from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, has been charged with a burglary in Cassington Road, Eynsham, on October 30.
Lee Coulter, from Priors Road, Prestbury, appeared at Oxfordshire Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. He was remanded in custody until November 26.
A second man, aged 42, from Cheltenham, was arrested on Tuesday in connection with four burglaries on the same day. The incidents occurred in Paines Hill, Steeple Aston; Oxford Road, Bladon; Ditchley Road, Charlbury; and The Ridings, Leafield.
He was released on bail to return to Abingdon police station on January 8.
Mr France added: “The overall level of burglaries is low, but the impact of every offence is so serious this is our number-one priority.
“We are putting extra resources into the area, to look for potential offenders. It is only right that we want the public to be aware.”
Mr France appealed for anyone with information about any of the break-ins to call him via the police enquiry line 101.