County Durham residents are being urged to protect their property from opportunistic thieves this winter.
The onset of dark nights can lead to a rise in burglaries, as a house which is in darkness can look empty to an opportunistic criminal.
As part of Durham Constabulary’s Winter Nights campaign, people are being urged to take simple steps to secure their homes to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime.
Chief Inspector Caroline Davies, from Durham Constabulary, said: “All too often people are making their homes attractive to burglars and thieves by leaving them unlocked or in darkness during the winter months.
“However, a few simple steps are all it takes to reduce this risk and protect yourself from becoming a victim of crime.”
Follow these tips to keep your home safe this winter:
• Lock all windows and doors – even if you’re at home.
• A well-lit home gives the impression someone is in.
• Leave a light on or use timer switches so lights come on when it gets dark.
• Don’t leave valuables on show.
• Don’t leave your house and vehicle keys in the lock or on a side table in view of a window, making it easy for a thief to fish them through your letterbox.
• Don’t leave curtains closed during the day, only in the evening and overnight.
• If you have a house alarm, use it.
• Contact your local neighbourhood police team if you see anything suspicious in your area.
As part of the campaign, people are also being reminded to always lock their vehicles when leaving them unattended, and remove all valuables from sight.
“Vehicles left unattended with valuables left on display or unlocked are a magnet for criminals, who will often try a number of car door handles until they find one that has been left open,” added Ch Insp Davies.
“It only takes a few seconds to make sure you’ve locked the door, but it could mean the difference between having your car stolen or having it there when you return.
“In the run up to the festive season when traditionally people are doing more shopping, they should also remove items from their vehicles before leaving them unattended, or lock them out of sight in the boot.”
During the campaign, PCSOs will also be patrolling key hotspot areas which have seen an increase in burglaries, thefts from vehicles and antisocial behaviour.
To report any suspicious activity in your area, contact Durham Constabulary on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.