COMMITTED police officers and the coronavirus lockdown have frustrated burglars and drug dealers in Wokingham.

That’s the message from superintendent Felicity Parker, police area commander for Wokingham, who says residential burglaries have dropped by 56 per cent this year (75 were committed).

“We have had a significant impact on burglaries this year and, yes, Covid has helped,” she told a Wokingham Borough Council meeting on November 19.

“We’ve had a 56 per cent reduction in burglaries, which is the top in the force.”

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She said police have focused on working with the community, to ensure people secure their homes and reduce the risk of a break in.

Officers have also run a several sophisticated operations to catch well-organised and prolific burglars.

Operation Olid was launched after 14 burglaries were committed in Twyford Sonning and Surrey between April and July this year.

Detectives managed to track down and catch one burglar who has been convicted of three offences so far, but they are hoping to secure further convictions.

Operation Ordain was launched following 35 burglaries in Bracknell and Wokingham in November 2019. Two suspects have been taken to court and one has already pleaded guilty to 20 offences.

Superintendent Parker said her officers have also taken “significant action” to tackle drug dealing in Wokingham.

She said a number of alleged dealers are due in court after they were arrested last year as part of Operation Oedipus, which aimed to tackle the supply of Class A and Class B drugs in Wokingham.

That operation was launched after police received reports claiming drugs were being sold to children.

Police have carried out 10 drugs raids in Wokingham this year, including four between September 14 and September 20.

During that six-day period, they found two cannabis factories and arrested someone who is believed to be a key member of a county lines drugs gang. He was found with 50 wraps of class A drugs.

A new team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives have also been assigned to work with officers in Wokingham this year.

Superintendent Parker said: “Not only does that mean we have extra expertise and help with some of the more complex investigations, it also means we are much more linked in with the neighbourhood teams.

“The detectives are getting to understand the local criminals so they can take more proactive action.”

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At the council meeting, chief constable John Campbell revealed that the first national lockdown frustrated drug dealers across the Thames Valley.

“During the first wave of Covid and the lockdown, some of the people supplying drugs couldn’t do their trade,” he said.

“If they were coming from outside the area they couldn’t travel. If they were dealing locally, there was an impact on their ability to get out and meet the people who might be buying their drugs.”

Superintendent Parker said Wokingham has also seen the number of robberies (down 33 per cent) and thefts from vehicles (down 32 per cent) drop, but there has been a stark rise in domestic violence call outs and dealing with those is her “number one priority”.