Residents in a historic market town have hired their own private security company after a series of burglaries in the area.
A group of houses in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, took the drastic measure after they were repeatedly targeted.
The residents have hired a private company to patrol the streets during the night using dogs and marked cars, the Sunday Times reported.
It said about 50 villages within a 10-mile radius now employ guards, with hundreds of residents paying about £35 a month per household.
Residents there are frustrated as what they see as a lack of police presence.
They have hired Blueline Security, which employs ex-police and military workers, to ward off would-be burglars.
It previously focused on gated communities in London, but has now expanded into rural areas in the past four years, with 40% of its customers in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.
One Cambridgeshire resident, pilot Derek Suckling, 51, was working in the US five years ago when he got a phone call from his wife to say they had been burgled while she was inside the house.
“She was screaming, 'We’ve been burgled, we’ve been burgled',” he told the Sunday Times.
“She was in the house on her own when they broke in through the patio door."
The family's Jeep, as well as clothing, shoes and jewellery were all taken in the burglary.
The stolen vehicle was later used in other burglaries before being found in a farmer's field.
A thief was eventually jailed for 12 years for carrying out a five-month crime spree across several counties, the Sunday Times said.
Residents 'sleeping with guns'
Suckling said that within four weeks of his home being burgled, every house on that side of the street had been targeted.
He explained why residents decided to hire a private security firm.
“We are on the border of Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire — the furthest from the central policing hubs. You see a policeman out here about as often as you see Halley’s Comet.
Before hiring private security, some residents in Kimbolton and the nearby hamlet of Stonely had been sleeping with guns in bed out of fear of criminals.
In January 2019, Suckling told Cambridgeshire Live: "I have heard people in the village are sleeping with rifles, firearms and bats and weapons within reach because of fear of people entering their property."
He said there had been at least 20 burglaries or attempted burglaries in the space of four months.
How to protect your home from burglary
There are a number of measures that people can take to prevent a burglary at their home.
According to consumer advice service Which?, homeowners should first make sure windows and doors are locked.
They are advised not to leave spare keys outside the property where they are visible or easy to find.
Sheds and garages should also be kept locked with high-quality padlocks or security locks.
Residents should not leave keys in the front or back door, or leave window keys in their locks.
Don't leave ladders lying around the property that could make it easy for a burglar to gain access.
Burglars also look for high hedges before targeting a home, because it could help keep them out of sight of neighbours.
Which? said that burglars are most put off by burglar alarms; a dog in the home; people in the property; CCTV and outdoor or sensor lights.