Detectives struggling to contain Bermuda's burglary epidemic have been shocked by yet another spike in offences over the past two months.

Seasoned officers say April was among the worst months they can remember, with more than 135 homes, schools and offices broken into. March was almost as bad, with at least 110 reported burglaries up and down the island.

The figures top even those for 2007, which had already set records. Last year there were 1,280 burglaries in total - an average of 107 a month. The year's total was over twice as high as that of 2000.

Crime prevention experts yesterday reiterated their warning to householders and business owners to lock up securely. Police believe 70 per cent of burglaries occur after a window or door is left open or unlocked.

Underscoring their message is Paget homeowner Penny Carruthers, who was burgled recently after leaving a bathroom window ajar. Mrs. Carruthers, 64, told the Bermuda Sun of her hurt and anger and urged other householders to lock up tight (see page 4)

Gerry Lyons, crime prevention officer, said: "In terms of burglaries, April was the highest I've seen, and March wasn't far behind it. I've been staggered by the number coming in."

Last month, four teenagers were jailed for breaking into dozens of properties in the west end because they were "bored". Mr. Lyons said that the police have apprehended a number of such repeat burglars recently and said he now expects the number of offences to drop. However, his fear is that they will increase again when the repeat burglars are released from prison.

"It's like the war in Iraq: we can't win it; we can only try to reduce the casualties," he said. "That's why we repeat to people that they must shut and lock every door and window every time they go out or are asleep. That will stop most burglars."

Mr. Lyons said he believes that the current rash of burglaries is being driven by an increase in the availability of drugs. He said: "Once, the drug of choice on the island was marijuana. Now it's just as likely heroin, cocaine, crack. There's no way these people can feed their addiction unless they steal."