POLICE are warning businesses to watch out for a gang targeting commercial premises in North Swindon.

Following a number of reports over the last few days, it is thought a group is hitting industrial parks around the town, including Groundwell West Industrial Estate, in an attempt to steal laptops and equipment.

And police say businesses can take some simple steps to protect their property from the burglars.

Inspector Charlie Ducker, of the Swindon North Police Sector, has received four reports in the past ten days in which commercial premises have been broken into and in each case, one or more laptops have been stolen.

Insp Ducker said: “It is too much of a coincidence for this not to be a dedicated criminal team who have a specific aim in mind.

“I believe that a small group is deliberately targeting business offices purely to steal laptops which have been left out and on view.”

Police are advising all business owners to take simple steps to secure their offices. They say premises should be securely locked overnight and laptops and smaller valuable items should be stored away, or even taken home outside office hours.

Insp Ducker is also urging all business owners to review their workforce operating practices and to send a clear message to their staff that a major factor in beating the criminal is act smarter and remove their opportunities to steal.

Homeowners are asked to take the same advice to act against opportunistic theft. As the weather has become warmer there has also been a small increase in property stolen from garages and sheds. In most cases, the shed or garage that has been broken into has been left unlocked.

In addition, homeowners should consider additional security for expensive bicycles, garden machinery and other equipment stored in sheds and garages.

Insp Ducker said: “We recently returned an expensive bicycle to its owner after it was recovered near where it was stolen. “We were able to do this because it had a secure bicycle lock. The thief clearly couldn’t manage carrying it away so dumped it nearby. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your doors locked. It is a simple step but very effective.”

For more crime safety advice contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.