A gang of distraction burglars are marking houses on Purley’s Webb Estate to show the ease with which they can be burgled.

The Purley Safer Neighbourhoods team has released drawings, similar to those used by travellers, so people can see if their properties have been marked.

It is thought that the symbols are chalked on resident’s wall and fences to indicate how fellow burglars should go about stealing from the property.

Victims are said to be distracted by burglars pretending to be roofers or builders while their accomplices break in and steal valuables.

Detective Inspector Ian Anderson from Croydon Burglary Squad said: “Nationwide there are symbols like this cropping up. "They are not only reserved to chalk signs and can include anything from stones placed outside to small items indicating that a house has been burgled before. "We would like to tell people that if they do see something unusual placed against a house or written on it to get in touch and let us know.”

Burglaries in the borough have risen to 300 a month as officers struggle to control the problem.

Police launched Operation Spotlight last December in a bid to stem the tide of burglaries which had risen 68 per cent compared to November 2007.

Residents who see any of the symbols on properties in Croydon should call Croydon Police on 0300 123 1212.

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