A POLICE sergeant has offered reassurance to angered residents who have complained about the increase in crime in their area.

Members of the Whitehall community in Darwen have been growing increasingly frustrated at the amount of crime and anti-social behaviour in their streets.

Over the last month or two, several residents have fallen victim to car thieves and vandals, who are stealing items such as tools, bags, and other valuables from locked cars.

Kenneth Whalen who lives in Watery Lane said: "There's a gang of youths and a gang of thieves who are targetting this area and it feels like we've been in the midst of a crime wave.

"Cars have been broken into, my wife's car was broken into, and someone had a do at trying to get into my work van.

"I know someone round the corner on Stanley Drive had their BMW broken into, and we are all sick to death of it.

"It's not just the thieves, it's the teenagers as well, hanging round till 3am, trying car doors, breaking wing mirrors off.

"We've got so much CCTV that shows people stealing from the cars. These people are using mechanisms to get into keyless cars too.

"We've phoned the police countless times but nothing gets done, there's about two officers for the whole of Darwen. We're just fed up."

Sergeant Shaun Pearson who works in the neighbourhood police team, said there are four police officers and seven PCSOs who work out of Darwen, with cover 24 hours a day.

He said: "Crime patterns have peaks and troughs, and a lot can be down to social economic reasons. Sometimes it can seem like there's a massive crime wave in a certain area that's been going on for ages but that's not the case.

"There was a spike in vehicle crime across the whole of Blackburn with Darwen recently, in fact, the whole of East Lancashire has seen a spike.

"Yes, the main area in Darwen was Whitehall, but other areas have been affected too. Unfortunately some thieves can be territorial and will work in a certain area for a while before moving on and then coming back.

"We've had a real problem with keyless cars getting stolen and I would stress for people to keep their cars locked at all time, check they are locked and use a crook lock.

"I would also urge people to report every crime. We use these reports to build statistics for each area and every report helps us build a picture so we can act if we know one particular area is worse than others.

"If this is the case then we'll deploy more resources to those areas. I want to reassure residents that we're doing all we can to protect them.

"Neighbourhood policing is undergoing a bit of a transformation at the moment which means more officers actually out and about.

"Whitehall is a good community and a vocal community, but it is not the worst place to live, by far."