More than 500 properties were found to be at risk of burglary during ‘dark nights’ patrols across the force area in just one week.
The operation formed part of a force-wide initiative to prevent crime on the run-up to Christmas.
Durham Constabulary officers and staff from neighbourhood police teams, alongside Neighbourhood Watch volunteers, targeted areas that have had previous problems with break-ins. Those homes found to be at risk were delivered a leaflet with tips on how to stay safe.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Ashton said: “We know that homes left in darkness are much more likely to be targeted by criminals.
“There are simple steps that people can take to reduce the risk of a break-in; use timer lights, fit an alarm and use it, draw curtains or blinds, don’t leave valuable items or gifts on view.
“As part of the campaign we are also offering appointments with our crime prevention officers who can supply safety equipment for homes, including lighting timers.
“A burglary at this time of year can ruin the festive season for a family. We hope that by co-ordinating these patrols across County Durham and Darlington this week we will raise as much awareness as possible about how people can keep themselves and their property safe, and that everyone can enjoy a crime-free and happy Christmas.”
Over 3,000 houses were checked, mainly across the south of the county. Two homes were found to have their garage doors wide open, leaving easy access to items inside and one car nearby had its fuel cap open. Advice was given to the owners in all three cases.
And several properties were clearly unoccupied, some in darkness with ‘for sale’ boards outside and others with front window blinds open showing an empty address, making them potential targets for criminals to break in and strip out boilers or other materials.