Drugs' counsellor reveals cost of users

A LEADING Ipswich drugs counsellor today estimated drug addicts commit up to three-quarters of all burglaries in the town.

By KATE BOXELL, crime reporter,

kate.boxell@eveningstar.co.uk>

A LEADING Ipswich drugs counsellor today estimated drug addicts commit up to three-quarters of all burglaries in the town.

Brian Tobin, leader of the Iceni Project which helps rehabilitate drug users, was speaking as police continued to investigate a spate of burglaries in the west of the town.

As reported in yesterday's Evening Star, police are investigating the possibility that the 78 burglaries and attempted burglaries in west Ipswich may be linked to drug use.

A syringe was found at the scene of one of the offences and the opportunist nature of the burglaries suggests drug users may be responsible.

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Mr Tobin said he believed 70-75 per cent of burglaries were probably linked to drug use and users are estimated to cost the community £18,000 a year each, a sum which could fund a counsellor to help them through addiction.

He said: “If the average person costs £18,000 that could pay for a full-time counsellor. If that counsellor gets one person off drugs that is a saving for the community already.

“When you try to get funding it is very difficult because charities for drug users are not the most favourable but there is a financial and emotional impact. Victims of burglaries can be devastated.”

Mr Tobin said there were just over 2,000 people undergoing treatment in the area at the moment but the government expected the charity to see about 3,300. Of those in treatment about 75-80pc had offended.

“They usually commit burglary, shoplifting, or opportunist theft. It isn't very sophisticated.”

He said many drug users would have to commit several crimes to feed their habits and more funding was needed to help support people to get off drugs.

Meanwhile chief superintendent John Fletcher, Suffolk police's new southern area commander, stressed everything possible was being done to catch those responsible for the thefts.

He said: “The burglary problem is our number one priority in Ipswich and as a result there are resources dedicated to those offences, and effort going into preventing those offences.

“Our clear message to the perpetrators of these crimes is that we are determined to stop the distress they are causing and bring them to justice.”

Anyone who has information on the burglaries should call Dc Steve Clarke at Ipswich CID on 01473 613500 or alternatively, anonymous calls can be made to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Have you been burgled recently? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

Panel - who is behind the burglaries?

Police are investigating the possibility that drug users are behind the wave of burglaries but said they are keeping an open mind as to who is committing the offences.

There is no evidence to suggest the offenders are using a vehicle - they are likely to be on foot.

Police believe the offenders are opportunists. Their main mode of operation is to smash glass door panels, reach in and twist the lock.

Most of the burglaries are taking place in the early evening rather than in the dead of night.

They are taking anything they can find from laptop computers to bottles of perfume - police are keen to discover what is happening to these items and where they are being sold on.

Descriptions of offenders focus on young, white males.

One offender is described as 17-19 of slim build and about 5ft 7in with dark hair.

Another man, seen near the scene of another burglary, is described as white, 25-27 with dark hair.

A man he was with was of mixed race, about 6ft and aged 25-27.

Fact file - Police advice

N Remove keys from locks to prevent offenders breaking glass and undoing the lock.

N Fit dead locks so offenders can get no further once the lock is broken.

N Set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme - properties where this is in operation are less likely to be burgled.

N Don't leave anything of high value on display as this may encourage offenders.

N Fit light timer devices so it appears people are at home.

N Many of the windows and doors are being broken with rocks - try to avoid leaving items an opportunist can use to smash a window within sight.

N If you discover a burglar in your home do not approach them - call 999 immediately.

N If you see any suspicious activity in your area contact police immediately - they would rather be called to a non event than discover a burglary later.

N For further advice contact your local crime reduction officer on 01473 613500.

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