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As the clocks go back at the end of the month (Sunday, 28 October) and the nights draw in Merseyside Police is taking the opportunity to give advice to members of the public to help stop them falling victim to crime and to keep them safe on the roads.

Most domestic burglaries have no forced entry, and the burglar simply walks in through an unlocked door or climbs through an open window. It only takes a few minutes for burglars to sneak into your home and steal your belongings and they will look to identify an easy target.

Superintendent Kevin Johnson, said: “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.

“Police community support officers from across the Force will be continuing to run Operation Handle, an initiative aimed at reducing the number of people who fail to lock their UPVC doors properly.

“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. Operation Handle aims to highlight just how vulnerable that can leave your property.

“Officers will be continuing to go from house to house trying people’s handles and speaking to those who leave their doors open about the risks. Hopefully they will appreciate that it could have been a burglar in their home instead of the police.”

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

• 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

• 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

Officers are also issuing motorists with essential advice to prepare for the onset of the winter weather. Follow this simple checklist and keep safe on the roads this winter:

Vehicle Safety Advice Tips

• In winter it is even more important to check your vehicle is well maintained and serviced

• Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow

• Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles

• Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order

• Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth

• Remember – on cold mornings NEVER leave your car unattended with the engine running while it warms up

• When driving lock your doors

When roads are icy or slushy

• It can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road

• To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently

Watch out for fog

• In foggy conditions, drive very slowly using dipped headlights

Winter sun

• Dazzle from winter sun can be dangerous. Keep a pair of sunglasses handy

Plan your journey – During wintry weather conditions

• Ask yourself – is your journey absolutely essential?

• Make sure you are equipped with warm clothes, food, boots and a torch. In snowy conditions, take a spade

• Always carry a screen scraper and de-icer

If you get into trouble

• Do not use a mobile phone while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call

• On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone, because the breakdown/emergency services will be able to locate you easily. If you have to use a mobile phone, make sure you know your location from the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder

• Stay with your vehicle until help arrives

• If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you

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