THE peaceful fishing community of Cheung Chau has been hit by a massive increase in the number of burglaries. Assistant divisional commander Inspector Bradley Wright said that so far this year there had been one burglary every two days on the island. He believed many more cases had gone unreported. Last year there was less than one burglary a week. Only 44 burglaries were reported for the whole of the year. Police are unable to explain the sharp increase, but believe many of the burglaries are committed by local residents rather than day-trippers. Inspector Wright said efforts to fight crime at holiday houses on the island had led burglars to switch to homes of local residents. ''This is a cat and mouse game,'' he said. ''This year we issued warnings for holiday house owners to put up [notices] in their premises reminding visitors against thefts. The burglars have now switched to the empty homes of residents. ''In several cases, burglars have broken into flats early in the morning, at between 3 am and 6 am, at the beginning of the week after the residents have left for work.'' Inspector Wright said criminals aged under 20 had been responsible for 76 per cent of crimes on the island last year and were believed to be connected with most of the current spate of burglaries. ''The problem is that most of the island population are parents at work in town or at sea for long periods and they leave their children behind with little control,'' he said. He said Police Tactical Unit officers were deployed regularly on the island and marine police launches were available to back up the 86 officers stationed there.