An increase in the number of break ins and thefts in Perth and Kinross is down to a lack of local police officers, a councillor has claimed.
Figures for the first quarter of this year show an increase over last year. This comes after figures published last month revealed an increase of more than 20% in house breaking – up from 173 incidents to 210.
Bob Brawn, vice convener of the housing and communities committee which scrutinises local policing in Perth and Kinross, blamed the problem on having fewer bobbies on the beat.
He said: “We have issues with opportunistic crime. People see a chance and that is it. It is the number of police officers around that is the problem. The public are down to a thin blue line.
“If somebody with criminal intent is touring around looking for something to steal then they know there aren’t likely to be any policemen around.”
Mr Brawn said a recent letter to Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf – sent after it emerged that only two police officers were on duty to cover the whole of Blairgowrie on one night – had yet to be answered.
He said: “It is not the police’s fault. They do a fantastic job and put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis but there isn’t enough of them. I have sent a letter to the Scottish Government and would have expected a reply by now.”
Police have highlighted a number of local incidents over the past fortnight, including a robbery in Invergowrie and break ins at the Dobbies Garden Centre in Kinross, the Almondbank Filling Station on the A85 and the Invergowrie Convenience Store and Post Office.
In Perth, four quad bikes were stolen from a shipping container, a golf business was burgled three times in one week, and a commemorative bench – dedicated to the memory of a deceased prison worker – was stolen from outside the Civil Service Club.
The businesses affected declined to comment.
Committee convener Peter Barrett , said: “Housebreaking and thefts have increased slightly last year compared to the year before that. The first quarter of this year also shows an increase over last year.
“While the figures remain comparatively low nationally, there is no room for complacency.”
Mr Barrett encouraged residents to remain vigilant.
He said: “Simple things like ensuring doors and windows are locked. Not popping out briefly and leaving your door open to opportunistic thieves. Keeping garages and garden sheds locked. Protecting your home’s surroundings with outside lighting.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said they had received the letter and would respond as soon as possible.
She said: “Police officer numbers remain significantly above the level inherited in 2007 compared to an almost 14% decrease over the same period in England and Wales.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said national police numbers were a matter for the Scottish Government.