RESIDENTS say they are living in fear following a number of thefts and break-ins.

Family members described seeing three masked men break into a house in Manchester Road while another of their group "took watch" in a getaway vehicle.

In a second incident last week, thugs cut the power cables and smashed a rear door to gain entry to a property in Manchester Road.

Calls have been made for an increased police presence and larger visibility in the area.

Assim Mahmood, from Bury, said: "My auntie was burgled by four masked men in a van.

"Heaven forbid anyone had been home at the time.

"They stole gold and tried to steal the TV but were thankfully disturbed by a neighbour.

"I fear the criminals are not being deterred because of the lack of police presence.

"This was not some Chelsea footballer's home but a semi-detached property.

"Criminals also cut the power at another person's home, smashing the rear door in the middle of the day.

"They wore gloves and took cash and gold.

"These criminals seem experienced. Every avenue must be explored to catch them."

The raid by masked men in mid-October was reported to the police by a neighbour who noticed the suspicious activity.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said: "A neighbour saw a vehicle parked on the driveway and knew something wasn't right.

"There were three people seen on CCTV. There was someone else on the look-out in a van.

"It was an organised effort. They thought about what they were going to do.

"It is very distressing. We are all quite anxious."

At least two of the properties in the immediate vicinity have had new burglar alarms installed following the break-in at about 5.30pm on Friday, October 12.

"It is frightening. We do not want to leave our homes", the resident said before adding: "The police told us it is the fifth or sixth incident in the past few weeks."

She called for the police to increase the number of patrols in the area but said more could also be done by residents.

"The visibility of police is quite low. I think more could be done by police and residents. People need to protect their properties and be more vigilant."

Greater Manchester Police has been approached for a comment.

Mr Mahmood said: "Residents are afraid to leave their homes.

"These crimes took place in the middle of the day.

"Bury is turning into a crime hot spot and residents are living in absolute fear."

Mr Mahmood has contacted James Frith, MP for Bury North, to raise the issue.

He called for a renewed focus on CCTV to detect crime.

Further suggestions for preventative measures include neighbourhood watch schemes with 'ring' doorbells' installed and rewards for information.

He also urged residents to install more security.