WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22: Burglary rates have increased despite an overall fall in crime.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said that the figures reflected a small number of serial offenders and a turn to crime amid the economic slump.

He said: “You can’t get away from that — it’s a perennial problem and it’s a crime of opportunity. If you have prolific burglars who are intent on personal gain and you have two, four, six or eight of them, these small numbers create huge surges in burglaries. It’s not surprising because acquisitive crime supports drug habits and reflects the absence of cash in some of our communities.”

Crimes against property, which includes domestic burglaries, increased by 102 offences in the last quarter of 2011 compared to the previous quarter — a total of 811 offences and a 14.4 per cent increase.

Compared to the last quarter of 2010, there were 116 more offences, a 16.7 per cent increase, compared to the corresponding period of 2011.

There were 209 residential burglary offences in the last three months of 2011, up from 125 in the third quarter of the year — a total of 84 more offences.

Year on year, the statistics remained virtually unchanged, with a total of 2,861 crimes against property, just three less than 2010, a 0.1 per cent decrease.

But Mr DeSilva said a corresponding increase in anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled brawls, which could be expected as people struggle with the stress of paying bills, has not materialized.

He said: “What we’re pleased to see is that there hasn’t been an increase in anti-social behaviour, bar fights or street affrays which are sometimes a result of pressure being released in an unhealthy way because of the recession.”

The figures for property crime, however, continue to show a long-term downward trend when compared with statistics for the last five years.