A SENIOR local police officer has said Penarth is not a "soft target" for criminals, after police launched a major operation following a spate of burglaries and rogue trader activities in the area.

Inspector David Barclay addressed members of Penarth Town Council on Wednesday evening (March 28), where he confirmed that instances of crimes being reported had risen from 72 cases in January to 83 in February.

While cases of residential burglaries had also risen from five to nine, Insp Barclay reassured councillors that arrests had been made in this area and that the figure was likely to fall for March.

He added however that criminals were adapting their methods, "changing from what is unsuccessful to what is successful."

Areas around Penarth and Sully have been targeted by criminals in recent months, with a spate of burglaries being followed more recently by incidences of fraud – where conmen have impersonated police officers to get their victims to hand over money – and rogue traders.

Insp Barclay said that South Wales Police had launched Operation Signature to target these types of offenders, starting with a major operation in Penarth, Sully and Barry on Monday (March 26) which saw 24 officers stop 80 different vehicles throughout the day, seizing eight of them.

He said the exercise was designed to "send a message" to criminals, and that similar operations would take place in the coming weeks.

"We want to show that Penarth, and the demographic that resides in Penarth, is not a soft target," said Insp Barclay.

He also added that it was imperative that residents who had been approached but had managed to avoid being conned reported the incidents to police, to assist in their enquiries.

"We are doing our absolute level best to protect the vulnerable, and we would encourage people who have been targeted by these people to report it," he said.