THIEVES have been targetting children’s nurseries in a series of raids.

Since October twenty burglaries have been taken place across East Lancashire.

Ten nurseries had been hit in Lancashire police’s Pennine area, which covers Burnley, Rossendale, and Pendle, and ten have also been broken into in Eastern division, which covers Blackburn, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley.

In Pennine division alone, four nurseries have been burgled since the start of the year - one in Bacup, one in Colne, and two in Burnley.

Police are considering the possibility that the burglaries, which mostly occur overnight, may be the work of an organised gang travelling into the area, possibly from Greater Manchester or West Yorkshire, with the specific purpose of carrying out the crimes.

It is thought the spate of burglaries may be part of a national crime pattern, with thieves targetting schools, nurseries and other educational establishements looking for cash.

Police have stepped up patrols in an attempt to deter potential thieves, and nursery staff are being warned to protect themselves against break-ins.

Detective Inspector Vincenzo DeCurtis from Lancashire Police said: “Neighbourhood police have been passing by nurseries and schools while on patrol.

“Seeing a police car there might act as a deterrent for people who may be thinking about committing these crimes.”

DI DeCurtis also offered advice to nursery owners and managers who are worried about being targetted.

He said: “They should ensure that security measures are in place. If they have got CCTV and lighting, make sure that’s operative.

“If they were to get inside, don’t keep items of value there. Put stickers up advertising that no cash it kept there overnight, it makes it less attractive to these people.

“Have property marked, get ultra violet pens, some police stations have these, or smart water.

“The main thing is prevention. ”

Anyone with any information about the burglaries can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.