POLICE are hunting thieves who targeted 13 garages in a spree across two streets.
Bikes, tools and scrap metal were among the items stolen during the break-ins.
The thefts were discovered by Ken Johnson as he prepared to leave his home in Brougham Court, Peterlee, to help out at the town’s triathlon event.
The 50-year-old discovered scrap metal, worth about £60, was taken after the lock on his garage was smashed off.
Mr Johnson, who runs Bcal Heating and Plumbing, said: “I was up at 4.45am and was leaving the house at 7.30am and that’s when I saw my garage was open and the bag of scrap had been stolen.
“I jumped in the car and got a couple of others who were at the triathlon to cover the jobs and came back.
“I could see quite a few of the others had their doors open as well.
“We don’t usually have any bother in this street.”
The first police officers on the scene carried out checks which found three others in the street had been burgled, with attempts made to get into five more, and three in Berwick Chase had been searched and efforts made to break into two others.
All of the buildings had been locked, before a variety of items, including three bikes – pink, grey and red in colour – a Dewalt table saw and a yellow Rubi tile cutter, were removed.
The break-ins and would-be thefts happened between the night of Saturday, April 16, and the following morning.
Since the incidents, police have sent letters to residents in both streets urging people to be extra vigilant and offer advice on how to protect property and deter thieves.
Detectives have also appealed for help with their investigation and are trying to track down a man seen in the area in the run-up to the incidents.
He is described as fair-haired, about 5ft 11in tall and may have been in a white van or taxi.
Detective Steve Thubron, of Peterlee CID, said: “This male was described as paying attention down the side of people’s houses and was possibly handing out cards, although none have been recovered.
“If anyone saw him, recognises the description or has any information, we would like to hear from them.”
Residents in the streets have upped their security measures in the aftermath of the burglaries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 0345 6060 365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.