A MAJOR police crackdown has been launched in Southampton after night-time thieves struck 40 times in just six weeks.

The dedicated clampdown to tackle burglaries and thefts of vehicles focuses on the Shirley area of the city.

Latest figures show that since the start of April officers in the area have received 40 reports of thefts, many of which took place between midnight and 4am.

It comes just days after the Daily Echo revealed how police in Bitterne had launched their biggest ever crackdown on youths who cause misery by riding illegal motorbikes and mopeds.

During the past six weeks police in Shirley have responded to 16 burglaries from sheds and garages, 12 thefts from vehicles, many of which contained tools, seven burglaries from homes and five vehicle thefts.

Operation Gideon will see police patrols stepped up, priority given to hotspot areas, as well as more use of stop and search powers.

Officers will also be working closely with youth clubs and colleges to deter teenagers from crime and offering crime prevention advice to households.

Residents are also urged to play their part by securing expensive items, locking vehicles, removing any valuables from sight and making a record of serial numbers of items.

Inspector John McGonigle said: “Operation Gideon will provide reassurance to residents across Shirley and the surrounding area following this recent spate of crime.

“We do not believe that all the incidents are linked and that they are likely to have been carried out by a small number of individuals all working separately.

“Education and providing crime prevention advice is key to tackling this problem quickly, and by increasing patrols in the area I’m confident that this operation will be successful.”