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Officers are reminding residents that home security is vital, particularly during the festive period when criminals know that people will have Christmas presents in their homes.

Inspector Jim Atherton, said: “Burglaries tend to increase at this time of year, due to the dark nights and thieves targeting properties to look for expensive Christmas gifts.

“It is very important that people extra-vigilant and ensure that they take home security seriously. Many burglaries can be prevented by taking very simple measures such as ensuring all windows and doors are locked, even when at home.

“Please take a moment to think about your security arrangements before a thief ruins Christmas for you and your family.

“The shorter days mean people’s houses are left in darkness for longer and can give criminals the opportunity to break in, knowing someone isn’t in. However you can make life as difficult as possible for them by making your home anything but an easy target.

“Improving security features like locks and alarms, and making sure your house always looks occupied can make a big difference. All people need to do is pick up the phone and call us and we will offer them all the help we can.

“People not locking their UPVC doors remains a big problem as it is giving criminals far too easy a ride. Opportunists can try dozens of handles in a street and, at the minute, it won’t be long before they find one that opens.

“Often people are either forgetting to both push the handle up as well as turn the key, or they are leaving it unlocked while round at a neighbour’s or elsewhere in the house.

“The force runs regular crime prevention surgeries throughout county. For details of the next surgery taking place in you area please contact 101.”

For more information about keeping your home and property safe please visit http://www.merseyside.police.uk/protecting-you/interactive-crime-prevention.aspx or call Merseyside Police on 101.

So to help keep homes safe this winter take heed of the following advice:

Remember to lock all your doors and windows, even if you are at home (make sure you know where the keys are)

Hide all your valuables – including car keys – away from prying eyes

Fit outside security lighting Remove all tools, ladders and other implements from your garden as these can be used to break into your property

Review your boundary security, make sure your gates and fences are in good condition and that outbuildings, sheds and gates have sturdy locks.

Be nosey – report any suspicious people or vehicles in your neighbourhood. Many crimes are thwarted and people arrested after members of the public report unusual or suspicious activity to the police.

Add up the value of all your belongings, then work out how much you spend on keeping them secure

People who have UPVC doors are reminded to fully secure them. If you simply lift the handle you will NOT fully engage all of the locks into the frame.

You MUST also double lock the door using the key. Remember to remove the key from the door once it is locked and leave it in a close and easily accessible place in case of emergency. Do NOT leave it on view where it can be seen and fished through the letterbox.

Don’t advertise new items you may have bought such as electrical equipment to people by leaving the empty boxes outside your home.

Try to dispose of the packaging carefully by taking it to a recycling centre or keep it out of sight until the day your rubbish is collected All your valuable property should be marked with a UV pen and you should keep a record of the serial numbers.

This can help make it easier for you to be reunited with your property if you are the victim of a burglary and the items are recovered During the dark nights, use a light timing device to switch the lights on (ensuring your blinds/curtains are drawn)

Don’t leave your car keys on display (on window ledges/worktops) and don’t leave them by your door/windows etc Always lock your windows and doors. If you haven’t got windows locks, you are advised to get window locks fitted. If you have window locks – use them Don’t leave your keys in the back of the door lock

Always check your front and back door are secure even if you are in, burglaries can often occur via insecure back doors whilst residents are at home watching television

Secure your shed and garage properly.

Don’t leave tools lying around these could be used to help offenders gain entry to your home

Security mark all your home and garden equipment with full postcode using a UV marker pen or permanent marker.

This can help make it easier for victims to be reunited with your property if you are the victim of a burglary and the items are recovered

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