ALMOST 70 per cent of theft investigations by Wiltshire Police were closed this summer without any suspects having been identified, official figures suggest.

While police chiefs have trumpeted a fall in the number of burglaries reported to the county force – an eight per cent fall – the overall number of thefts increased by four per cent.

And the clear-up rate for thefts generally remained relatively poor.

Home Office figures show that of 3,765 cases investigated by the force, 2,596 saw the investigation ended and no suspects found.

In only seven per cent of the cases, which include burglary, robbery and shoplifting, was a suspect charged or summonsed to court.

Overall, 7.3 per cent of Wiltshire Police’s cases made it to court and 37 per cent of investigations were closed with no suspect identified.

That put the Wiltshire force above the national average which was 5.8 per cent and 42.7 per cent respectively.

Across Wiltshire, the latest figures show a slight increase in crimes recorded by the county's force - up three per cent to 43,646.

Robberies were up 12 per cent, shoplifting up 11 per cent, bicycle theft up seven per cent and violence without injury up six per cent.

There were some notable improvements including a 14 per cent fall in drug offences and an eight per cent drop in burglaries.

Supt Sarah Robbins put the burglary fall down to a squad called the community tasking team, formed in 2016. She said: “Burglary is a horrendous crime which can be emotionally and financially damaging.

"It is the actions of a small number of individuals, which can have a huge impact on a town or area.

"We have identified the most prolific offenders across Wiltshire and Swindon with many of these now removed from our streets.”

Generally, drug possession offences were up by 21 per cent and possession of weapons reports increased by almost a third.

Police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “The increase in drug offences and offensive weapon possession is unsurprising, often these types of offences can be linked to county lines which continues to be a force priority.

“This increase in the offences recorded is testament to the ongoing proactive work to tackle the blight of these gangs who bring drugs into our county and target those most vulnerable.

“In fact, just last week I joined officers in Swindon on county line operations that resulted in 62 people being arrested. I will continue to work with the force to ensure that this momentum is not lost.”