BURGLARS have dubbed homes in parts of Leeds “banks” – because it’s so easy to make a “withdrawal”.
The city has long been saddled with some of the country’s worst burglary figures.
Now, thieves are telling academic researchers how they operate.
The full results are yet to be published – but crooks’ comments starkly reveal how they see Leeds as a soft touch.
When questioned, one said householders were “making it easy” by failing to lock doors or windows.
Another said areas of north Leeds were commonly referred to as “The Bank ... ’cause from a criminal point of view everyone makes a withdrawal”.
In 2010, Leeds’s burglary figures were so bad that public spending watchdog the Audit Commission issued a ‘red flag’ – a warning the authorities needed to take swift action.
Last year a joint report by the Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies said: “The overall rate and volume of burglary has declined from the almost endemic levels in the 1990s, but it has consistently remained well above other similar areas.”
Under the current research, commissioned by the Safer Leeds Partnership and led by renowned criminologist Sylvia Chenery, convicted burglars are being quizzed about their methods.
Chief Supt David Oldroyd, who leads work on burglary for police in Leeds, said: “They have been telling us why they burgle and where.
“You have to balance what they are saying against the fact that they like to big themselves up.
“They like to make out that they are something special.
“Nevertheless, there’s some truth in their comments and there’s still a lot of simple stuff that people could be doing to avoid becoming victims.”
In the North West Leeds division of West Yorkshire Police, burglary rates have fallen by nearly 50 per cent since March, thanks largely to an initiative which uses scientific techniques to predict when and where incidents will happen.
But police know that break-ins tend to increase during winter.
They are urging householders to do their bit by locking windows and doors, moving valuables out of sight and shutting curtains at night.
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd said: “We are doing all we can to get the message out there that taking some basic precautions can really make a difference.”