A police burglary alert has been dropped after a culprit came clean.
Officers in Farington crossed the crime spree off their list when a window cleaner stepped forward and revealed all. Worried residents had contacted police when white crosses marked in chalk appeared on properties in Farington.
It was feared burglars had identified the homes as targets – but it simply turned out to be a window cleaner marking off the properties.
Reassuring residents, police in South Ribble put out the message on their Facebook page on Friday: “You may remember we posted an alert regarding properties being marked by chalk in Farington, Leyland. Although we have previously linked property theft offences to markings similar to this we can confirm that the markings in this case are totally innocent.
“Although this investigation has had its ups and downs we have managed to finally get a clear view on the situation.
“It has transpired that the local window cleaner has used this system to let a colleague know which properties he had cleaned and which he hadn’t when he came around the back of the terraced properties to assist him.”
Sergeant Mark Douglas, of Leyland Police, added: “There’s a symbol system which is used by utilities companies to mark out, for example, where they need to fix a stop cock and that sort of thing.
“A very similar system has been operated by gangs operating across the country and there have been a series of crimes, like burglaries, whether the alarm works in a property or whether there’s anything worth stealing or not. That went viral over the internet. Some people believe, some don’t, but in reality, we know they’ve been used by criminal gangs.
“We wanted to remind people about securing property and valuables to prevent people becoming victims of crime and to see if anybody has been doing this and give us a line of inquiry to see if it’s in Leyland or not.
“A window cleaner presented himself to the police station. We checked his account out and he’s entirely genuine. We’re very happy there was nothing suspicious about it whatsoever. We’re happy we’ve been able to put people’s concerns at rest. It could have been an out-of-town criminal group operating in Leyland. People contacting us gave us lines of inquiry.
“I don’t think the window cleaner expected he’d cause the furore he did just by using a simple system in the course of his work. I think he’s going to start a different procedure.”