A SPATE of burglaries targeting the homes of elderly residents has prompted a local councillor to stand up and fight for those most in need.

Over the past six months, there have been multiple break-ins across Silksworth with The Aged Miners Cottages in Silksworth also being targeted, the perpetrators are still yet to be identified.

After visiting the homes of some of the victims, Cllr Phil Tye, Labour councillor for Silksworth decided to take matters into his own hands by sourcing and installing alarm systems for those left fearing for their safety.

Using his own money, he was able to purchase a number of door and window alarms and – after raising the issue with Sunderland City Council’s Local Multi Agency Partnerships (LMAPs) – he was also able to secure a small batch of shed alarms for installation throughout Silksworth.

Cllr Tye said: “The take-up has been phenomenal with over 160 requests made for an alarm since I started installing them last week.

“It has really brought home just how unsafe many of our residents feel in their own homes, with the number of opportunist thefts from sheds really unsettling those that are either on their own, elderly, or vulnerable.

“The alarms distributed so far have included digital shed alarms, window alarms and a new device in the form of a door handle alarm that activates an alarm as soon as someone touches it, which I thought was a perfect solution for homes – such as the Miners Cottages – they are also great for the long rows of houses with front doors direct onto the street within Silksworth. They also work really well on French and patio doors at the rear of houses.”

One of the residents who has received an alarm from Cllr Tye is 71-year-old, Dot Brown, who has lived in Silksworth all of her life.

Speaking about her new alarm system, she said: “This is a street full of elderly people who all look out for each other however we were all worried when our sheds were burgled. We even had one set on fire which was adjoined to the house of one of my neighbours, it was horrible.

“I also arrived home from doing my shopping one day to find that all of my garden furniture and chairs had been stolen. We’re a really friendly street and sometimes sitting outside is how we all get together and socialise. It makes you wonder what type of person would target a street full of elderly people like us. To target old people is disgusting. Another of our neighbours lost his bike too which he relies on to get out and about.

“It wasn’t until we saw a post on our local community group that Philip was helping install alarms for residents that we got in touch to see how he could help. Being at the edge of Silksworth near the main road we sometimes feel cut off from the community but Philip has reassured us that we’re not forgotten. He has really been great and we feel a lot safer now that our possessions are secured and our homes are safer.”

The response to the initiative so far and the flurry of residents that have contacted Cllr Tye for support after seeing his work has prompted him to not only continue sourcing and installing alarm systems, but also to call on councillors across the city to do the same.

He added: “It is absolutely disgusting that petty thieves are purposely targeting our most vulnerable residents who have given so much to our community. It is clear that when you’re targeting the Old Miners’ bungalows, you’re targeting the elderly, and that is just plain wrong.

“I will certainly be keeping up with this project and encouraging other councillors in the area to do a similar scheme as I have requests from right across Sunderland.”