People across County Durham and Darlington are being urged to take steps to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime as the dark nights draw in.
Unlike in previous years when often people found themselves still at work when the light faded for the day, many are now working from home.
However, officers are reminding people not to be complacent and that a few simple steps can reduce the chances of becoming a target for opportunist thieves.
As part of Operation Trident, officers will be focussed not just on crime prevention, but they will also have all powers available to catch those that break the law.
Whether the change is making sure your home is lit when unoccupied, keeping valuables out of sight in your vehicles or wearing something bright on your way home – we are urging people to take time to think about what they need to do.
Detective Superintendent Lee Gosling, of Durham Constabulary, said: “Dark evenings provide the perfect cover for criminals to spot an opportunity, whether it is to try an unlocked door handle or find an open window.
“I urge everyone to think about what they can do to improve their personal safety and crime prevention and look out for each other.
“Rest assured, we will be using all the powers at our disposal to pursue and catch opportunist thieves who think it is okay to target innocent people.
“We will always do everything we can to keep people safe and make sure those who are intent on bringing suffering to our communities are dealt with robustly.
“Operation Trident is one of several proactive pieces of work we do and is so successful because of vital community intelligence and I want to thank all the residents who continue to work with us.”
The following tips can help reduce the chance of your home and vehicle becoming a target for criminals:
• Lock all windows and doors – even if you’re at home.
• Ensure no items are on display and remove valuables from your vehicle each night.
• If you have elderly neighbours keep an eye on them.
• 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 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.
• In addition, secure any outbuildings and gates and consider installing a security light and/or CCTV.
• Report any unusual behaviour to us.
To report anything suspicious in your area call Durham Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.