Figures suggest the pandemic may have helped slash the number of burglaries in Essex by half.

According to Essex Police statistics, the number of break-ins plummeted from 12,581 in the year ending June 2018 to 6,340 in June 2021.

But with lockdown a likely cause and more people working from home in future, a Neighbourhood Watch leader has stressed this should not be a reason to have fewer officers on the streets.

Essex Police said although restrictions are likely to have impacted the figures, the force was determined not to rest on its laurels.

It added the number of burglaries were declining “well before the pandemic” anyway, with a 30 per cent year on year fall.

Figures revealed 2,664 fewer burglaries by year end July 2021 compared to the year before; 1,715 fewer by year end July 2020, and 926 for the same period since 2018.

Essex Police lead for burglary Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said: “The figures show a really promising trend, not just through the coronavirus pandemic when the country was subject to restrictions, but also before then.”

But he said there is no guarantee this decrease would continue, adding: “As the country moves forward without a ‘stay at home’ message I would like everyone in the country to make protecting their home a top priority.”

Epping Forest District Neighbourhood Watch secretary Bryn Elliott welcomed news about fall in number of burglaries but said this should not mean cutting officers on the beat.

He said: “I’m down the town most days of the week and never see an officer. It’s been the same ever since Essex Police took over Waltham Abbey, Loughton and Chigwell 22 years. So yes, the figures are a silver lining to a grim situation but let’s not fall into the trap of thinking we need fewer officers on the streets.”

But according to Thomas Buck, technical director at statistical data analysis project CrimeRate, more people staying at home is likely to have reduced opportunities for burglaries.

He said: “With more people staying at home, the all-day presence of someone at a property would impact these figures. We have also noticed similar crime trends in bicycle theft and vehicle crime in commuter heavy towns.”