Norfolk police have a shockingly low success rate in tackling thefts with thousands going unsolved, new figures have revealed. 

The figures released by Norfolk police show that more than 4,500 theft investigations were discontinued by officers last year “pending further investigative opportunities becoming available”.

Cases closed because no suspect had been identified or because the crime had been “investigated as far as reasonably possible” totalled more than half of the 8,985 thefts reported to police in 2021/22.

The investigations halted included a wide range of types of thefts and attempted thefts from shoplifting to bag snatches, muggings and blackmail.

Eastern Daily Press: Theft cases were closed because no suspect had been identified or lines of enquiry had been exhaustedTheft cases were closed because no suspect had been identified or lines of enquiry had been exhausted (Image: PA)

A spokesman for Norfolk police said: “We don’t underestimate the impact of being a victim of theft and are continually looking at ways we can improve our current rates of solving crimes and bringing offenders to justice.”

Victim Support said theft can have serious and long-term impacts on victims – robbing them of both their possessions and their sense of safety.

Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the independent charity, added: "Theft is a crime that must always be taken seriously by the police, and work must be undertaken to improve these shockingly low success rates.”

Among the unsolved cases were 957 involving thefts from shops or market stalls, 203 where criminals made off without paying, 200 thefts from the person, 174 household thefts and 181 involving blackmail.

Eastern Daily Press: Almost 800 bike thefts were unsolved in Norfolk last yearAlmost 800 bike thefts were unsolved in Norfolk last year (Image: Getty Images)

There were also 773 bicycle thieves who were not caught and 42 who stole items from the mail, according to the figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Catching thieves 

Police said officers worked hard to identify active lines of enquiry, including using “the latest in forensic technology, interrogating CCTV, doorbell, and dash cam footage, carrying out high visibility patrols, making public appeals for witnesses, house-to-house visits and following up intelligence leads”.

“Covert tactics, including deploying a GPS tracking system in areas identified as particular hotspots for bike thefts and investigating intelligence on social media surrounding sales of bicycles are also routinely used,” said a spokesman.

Eastern Daily Press: Police said GPS tracking were among the hi-tech techniques being used to help catch thievesPolice said GPS tracking were among the hi-tech techniques being used to help catch thieves (Image: Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, it is also often the case that there are no viable lines of enquiry to pursue: no witnesses, and no CCTV or forensic opportunities. 

“In these instances, and when all lines of enquiry have been exhausted, a crime report will be closed pending any new information coming to light.”

Last year it was revealed that police have failed to solve a single theft in nine out of 10 neighbourhoods across Norfolk over the past three years.

Breckland had the highest unsolved rate (94pc), followed by North Norfolk and South Norfolk (both 93pc), and King's Lynn & West Norfolk (91pc).

Great Yarmouth has the lowest, but more than eight in 10 thefts still remained unsolved. In Norwich 88pc didn’t lead to thieves being brought to justice.

National figures

The latest figures come as Labour said more than a million thefts went unsolved nationally last year, a figure it branded “disgraceful”.

Its analysis of crime statistics found that 1,145,254 cases of theft were dropped because the police failed to find a suspect.

Eastern Daily Press: Shadow home secretary Yvette CooperShadow home secretary Yvette Cooper (Image: PA)

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Theft and burglary are awful crimes and should be properly investigated, not just left for the victims to make an insurance claim. 

“The Home Secretary has no plan to turn this around and is instead obsessed with gimmicks rather than a serious plan to catch more criminals.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We continue to support the police, including through record investment and the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.”