Five Hampstead burglaries a week prompts police patrols

Police have launched a major crime offensive against a spate of burglaries that have blighted Hampstead for months.

New figures show that between the beginning of March and the end of April this year there have been 70 incidents involving property break-ins – equal to more than five a week.

But Sgt Matt Walters, of Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Team, said his unit are now getting on top of the problem after putting in an “enormous amount of effort”.

And he revealed that his team’s endeavours are now paying off, with a notable drop in the number of burglaries over the last three weeks.

He said: “We’ve increased our visible presence and patrols in the area. We’ve also targeted areas that we think have been vulnerable to burglary and acted on intelligence to identify suspects.

“Arrests have been made and the spate of burglaries has reduced massively and we’ll continue with this effort.”

Jonathan Bergman, chairman of the South Hill Park neighbourhood watch, was full of praise for the work Sgt Walters and his team.

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He said: “The alarming spate of residential burglaries that greeted Sgt Matt Walters, the new head of the Hampstead SNT prompted him to synthesise the Met, our Heath Constabulary and the Transport Police with a round the clock street presence.

“The measures taken by Sgt Walters and his team are professional and tenacious. Sgt Walters leads by example – he’s hands on and inspiring.”

After being called to a break-in at a property in Pond Street at around 5.40pm last Wednesday, officers from Hampstead police arrested a 46-year-old man.

Gary John Knowles, of Chester Road, Dartmouth Park, was charged with burglary and possession of cannabis.

Knowles was remanded in custody and appeared last Thursday at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and will return to court on May 27.