POLICE in Durham and Chester-le-Street are warning burglars they will not be taking a holiday over the festive season.

A crackdown on thieves is running to try to counter a 60 per cent rise in house break-ins across the division.

So far more than 40 suspects, who are believed to be responsible for more than 100 burglaries, have been arrested by detectives and uniformed officers.

Some are being held in custody but others have already been taken to court and sentenced for their crimes.

Police are particularly pleased with the arrest of a group of 11 teenagers who were operating in teams to commit a string of sneak-in burglaries at homes in the Chester-le-Street area.

Detective Inspector Andy Reddick said that there would be no let-up in the campaign during the Christmas and New Year festivities.

"I am delighted with the success of the operations which we will still be running through Christmas and into next year.

"We will continue gathering intelligence and targeting persistent offenders who we believe are responsible for many of the burglaries being committed across the division."

In addition to undercover operations, uniformed officers have been mounting high visibility patrols in areas that have been identified as break-in hot spots.

Det Insp Reddick said: "I am sure that the hard core of criminals within the division are now all too well aware that they have been targeted.

"Many have been arrested either for burglary or for handling stolen goods. Some are currently in custody awaiting trial while others have been sentenced by the courts.

"For those still at large we can promise that there will be no respite during the coming weeks."

Anyone with information about a crime should call Durham police station on 0191-386 4222, Chester-le-Street police station on 0191-388 4311 or Crimestoppers on freephone (0800) 555111.