AN unsuspecting Chester woman cooks her meal as a stranger notes the wide open kitchen window.
The back gate is unlocked and the man, part of a team, has also spotted an expensive telescope in the back garden shed.
Together this gang have been targeting homes in the Garden Lane area for five days.
But this gang are not burglars – they are the burglary squad, police officers determined to stop thieves.
On the orders of Insp Mel Williams, they have been darting down the warren of alleyways after dark checking windows, door handles opened and gardens.
DC Eric Rowlands and DC Nigel Thake make up half of the active burglary squad.
“This area makes rich pickings for sneak thieves because it’s full of students with laptops in each room,” DC Rowlands explains.
Insp Williams adds: “Historically, we have found that we have an increase in burglaries at this time of the year which coincides with early dark nights.”
DC Rowlands continues: “Experience tells me that 99% of people committing these offences are funding heroin addictions.
“The thing is with heroin addicts is they weigh nothing and they’re driven by the addiction to get in anywhere.”
He points to an upstairs window. Right next to it is a ladder.
The pair repeat just how easy it is to protect your home or flat. A bolt on the back garden gate and a sensor light in the garden would put off most.
DC Thake then tries the handle on the front door of a house and it opens to an empty hallway lined with coats.
“How easy is it?” he asks. “But you get that a lot and this is what we’re up against.”
Government targets mean the squad is expected to pick up one in every four burglaries in Chester. But this operation is intended to get people to help them cut out the most difficult type to detect – the sneak thief.
The squad has already managed to cut burglaries by 31% and last weekend handed out 150 sensor lights to combat thieves still further.