ALMOST 85 per cent of all burglaries committed in Sheffield went unpunished with no suspect ever being caught, The Star can reveal.
Of more than 22,000 break-ins across the city in the last three years, 18,592 were undetected with no suspect charged.
The figures, which also show the total number of burglaries has fallen over the period, were released by South Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act.
In 2008 there were 8,364 break-ins, with 7,018 going unsolved; the following year 7,390 properties were broken into with 5,886 undetected; and in 2010 6,654 burglaries were carried out with 5,688 remaining unsolved.
The figures include both business and home burglaries, while detected incidents include those that resulted in cautions and crimes taken into account, as well as crooks who ended up in court.
Over the last three years, in Doncaster there were a total of 15,127 burglaries with 13,448 unsolved; in Barnsley, of 6,469 break-ins, 5,704 of which were never detected; and in Rotherham, there were 8,032 burglaries with no charges brought in 6,174 cases.
Victim Terry Hopley, aged 72, of Clover Gardens, Wincobank, returned from holiday in October to find his home ransacked and his late wife’s jewellery and uncle’s World War One medals stolen.
The grandfather-of-four found every drawer and cupboard in his home had been rifled through and his belongings were all over the floor.
He said: “The police have never caught anyone for my break-in but there’s not a lot they can do about when the Government is taking money away, meaning officer numbers are going down.”
“Burglaries do seem to be happening everywhere these days - I think everyone knows somebody whose house has been broken into.
“It’s upsetting when it happens to you but you just have to get over it.”
Detective Chief Inspector Craig Robinson, South Yorkshire Police’s lead officer for burglaries, said the force currently solves around one third of all burglaries across its entire area and that, compared to other forces, the rate was among the best in the country.
“There has been a year-on-year reduction in burglaries and we are detecting a third of all dwelling burglaries which exceeds our 27 per cent target,” he added.
“Last year we achieved a 35 per cent detection rate, which was one of the best in the country. We are also ranked as one of the most improving forces.
“Rotherham’s rate for reducing and detecting serious acquisitive crime was the best in the country last year, so it is not all doom and gloom.
“Criminals are becoming more sophisticated in terms of being more aware of the forensic opportunities the police have, so they don’t leave fingerprints, DNA or footmarks and wear face coverings because they know they are looking at lengthy sentences if they are caught.
“Usually there are no witnesses because such crimes are often committed in the hours of darkness when there is less chances of being seen.
“Criminals are trying to keep one step ahead of us but we are trying to keep one step ahead of them too.”
He said the force had a number of action days planned and officers were trying to get prolific offenders on to treatment and support programmes to help them turn their lives around and cut re-offending rates.
He said officers also took offenders around the streets of South Yorkshire to identify homes they have burgled to solve cases.
DCI Robinson urged residents to do their bit by stepping up home security and keeping valuables out of sight.