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RESIDENTS across Wickford are urged to be vigilant following a spate of burglaries.

Councillor Michael Mowe, who represents Wickford North Ward, has been contacted by seven people in the past month who all claim their homes were targeted by criminals.

The first incident took place on Saturday, October 27, when jewellery costing thousands of pounds was stolen from a home in Elder Avenue.

Since then police have been made aware of a further three incidents, and are urging anyone else who has been affected to come forward.

Burglars broke into a house in Hyde Way whilst the homeowners were on holiday between November 2 and November 8 and took a laptop.

On November 5, a property in Elder Avenue was targeted during the middle of the day before thieves made off with a laptop and women’s handbag.

Another house on the same road was also burgled between the night of November 8 and morning of November 9.

Thieves took a handbag and car keys, before escaping in the stolen vehicle.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “We are looking into various aspects of each burglary to ascertain if they are connected. They all happened on or close to the same road and within the same time frame, so there is a likely chance that they were committed by the same people.”

On Monday, November 12, officers arrested a 19 year-old local man in Station Avenue on suspicion of burglary after receiving a report of suspicious behaviour from a concerned member of public, but he was later released without charge.

Mr Mowe, who lives in Station Avenue, believes that the crimes are being committed by people outside of the area.

He is so worried that he has even written to the chief constable of Essex Police, Jim Barker-McCardle, to raise his concerns and ask for something to be done to tackle the problem.

He said: “We’ve got the railway station nearby so it’s easy for people to get off the train, have a look around and quickly break into a house before getting back on the train.

“I’m very concerned but I don’t want residents to panic, they just need to be aware.”

Anyone with information on the burglaries is urged to contact officers at Basildon police station on 101.