"If police won't protect us, we'll protect ourselves", says Preston community plagued by burglary
Families in Preston are forming patrols to protect their communities from burglars after a number of raids on homes in recent weeks.
According to residents in the Frenchwood area, at least six homes have been targeted in the past two weeks.
Jewellery, laptops and phones worth thousands of pounds have been reported stolen from homes in Frenchwood Avenue, Manchester Road, Herschell Street and Selborne Street.
"Local people are feeling very vulnerable", said one victim, whose home off Manchester Road was burgled on Christmas Day.
"There's a real sense of fear in the community, people are afraid for their families and elderly relatives.
"Everyone's worrying and wondering, "Who's next?"
The Christmas Day victim said: "They completely ransacked our home. Every single drawer and cupboard was pulled open and stuff was flung everywhere.
"They had obviously searched our house from top to bottom. They took my jewellery, including a gold necklace my grandmother gave me. It seems to be gold they're after."
Last night (Tuesday, January 15), police attended a community meeting at Jamea Mosque in Clarendon Street as fears reached fever point.
Following the meeting, Preston's neighbourhood policing team took to social media to reassure residents.
"We have had a community meeting tonight and positive action will be taken with regards to tasking and targeting the area.
"PC Riley under Insp Dixon will be providing community reassurance.
"Please report any suspicious activity to 101 or through Crimestoppers."
The reassurances came after the community had expressed frustration with the initial police response.
A perceived lack of police action had led to volunteers forming community patrols in the area to police the streets themselves.
One victim, who lives off Frenchwood Avenue, said: "We've had to fight tooth and nail to get the police to take action.
"I was feeling really low the past few days, worrying about it all. But after taking part in the patrol I feel safer knowing people are looking out for me and my family.
"We're a close-knit community and we have volunteers from every family coming together.
"We're sending a message to the thieves that we won't be preyed upon.
"If the police won't protect us, we'll have to protect ourselves. We're not going to be victims any longer."
A member of Jamea Mosque, who asked not to be named, said: "People are saying the police haven't been responding fast enough.
"Each burglary and attempted break in is bolder than the one before and people are feeling very vulnerable.
"There are lots of elderly people living around here, often alone, feeling very scared and in fear they may be next.
"The perception is the authorities are dragging their feet. Something needs to be done to reassure people."
Another resident added: "There is widespread local feeling that police aren't doing enough.
"Residents are feeling scared and vulnerable and they're saying the police response is slow. There's hardly any patrols.
"Police turn up the next day after the burglary to swab the houses. They don’t even come to console the families or offer any protection."
There is concern that thieves are getting bolder as the burglaries become more frequent and homes are targeted in broad daylight.
Last night, families at Jamea Mosque were warned that two homes in Frenchwood Avenue and a home in Herschell Street had been targeted on Monday evening.
A notice posted at the mosque's entrance updated worshippers of the latest break-ins and called for community action.
"Come on people. Every day you go to work and you work so hard for so many hours and then these heartless thieves come along and help themselves to your possessions and those of your neighbours, Muslims or non-Muslims.
"The thieves don't necessarily care. As long as they can take something for free which other people worked hard for.
"What are we going to do about it?
"Please don't look the other way. Tomorrow it could be your home."
PS Harvey of Preston South Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "Following a number of burglaries in the Avenham and Frenchwood area, officers are proactively patrolling the area to offer reassurance and prevent further crimes.
"We will be conducting thorough and comprehensive investigations into each incident."
Police said tonight a 42-year-old man from Preston was in custody after he had been arrested in connection with the offences.
Earlier in the evening, a man had come forward following a CCTV appeal.