The police believe that the people behind the recent spate of burglaries belong to a gang who came to Malta on “working holidays”.

Sources close to the investigation said the police had made little progress in identifying the culprits behind the tens of burglaries of residences that have taken place in recent months, although a slowdown has been noted.

The sources said that different groups, each believed to be composed of between four and six men, would come here for a three to four-day stay during which they would target as many households as possible and make off with anything they could fit into their pockets.

In all cases, they stole jewellery, cash and watches. Larger items, such as televisions, gaming consoles, hi-fi systems, laptops and computers, were left untouched.

The sources said it was also likely that a mastermind was controlling the operation from abroad.

Likely that a mastermind was controlling the operation from abroad

The police are also looking into the possibility that the groups kept a hiding place in Malta for stolen items they did not manage to sell on the black market.

Rather than using bump keys, as some used to in the past, the burglars gained entry by drilling through the door locks, even those generally considered to be among the more secure. 

Sources said there have been dozens of burglaries in recent weeks, with the majority targeting apartments. In one case a whole apartment block was burgled. Sliema, St Julian’s, San Ġwann, Swieqi and Pembroke have been especially badly hit.

Houses in Swieqi, Ta’ l-Ibraġ, Birguma, Rabat, Qrendi and Marsaxlokk have also been burgled. In some cases, entire rows of households were targeted, except for the odd few deemed too risky.  

Burglar alarms in high demand

Suppliers of domestic and commercial burglar alarms cannot keep up with demand.

Alberta Fire and Security director Liz Barbaro Sant said their sales and requests for quotes and information had more than doubled in recent months and the company was toying with the idea of employing more installers.  

“Before, an alarm was a commodity but now it’s needed because you cannot put a price on safety,” she told The Sunday Times of Malta.

Commercial manager Adrian Cutajar said there was a trend of burglaries becoming increasingly organised and professional. Head of sales Reuben Germani said his staff were working till late to keep up with demand.

The experience was the same for G4S, with managing director Kenneth DeMartino saying that sales had “exploded” in recent months. “All of a sudden people are realising that an alarm is a deterrent and it is important to secure your property,” he said.

The director of another company who preferred not to be named said it was difficult for them to keep up with the number of requests they were receiving. “Nowadays, alarms are being planned at construction stage because it’s a must-have,” he said.