Cambridgeshire P0lice are urging residents to check their home security to help prevent a rise in burglaries over the winter months.
Dwindling hours of daylight and the Christmas period often combine to result in more break-ins at homes in the county.
The force is prioritising burglary as part of a new campaign called Operation Hunter and is using all tactics available to reduce the number of crimes through prevention work and catching and putting offenders before the courts.
However, as part of the operation, detectives are also urging members of the public to do their bit by taking precautions and making their homes unattractive to burglars.
In the three months from August to October last year, there were 569 dwelling burglaries in the county, compared to 628 during the following three months (November-January), a rise of more than 10 per cent.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Branston said: “Burglary is a top priority for the force because it leaves victims feeling vulnerable and can have a massive impact on their lives.
“A series of burglaries in a particular area can also leave communities feeling vulnerable so we are committed to tackling this type of crime from all angles.
“We are relentlessly targeting offenders but we also need the public s help to make it as hard for the crooks as possible.
“Taking security steps at home and remembering to always leave your windows and doors locked is a great start but we would also ask people to keep their eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity to police.
“Information we receive from the public is crucial and people should never hesitate to report something that appears unusual or suspicious in their neighbourhood.
Residents are urged to:
*Always keep doors and windows closed and locked or in a ventilated but locked position, even when they are inside the house. Always check and lock doors with a key – never assume that just pushing up an internal handle will lock the door.
*Remove keys from window and door locks, but keep them in a familiar and safe place where all members of the family know where to find them in the event of an emergency.
*Never leave items such as keys, bags, presents and money on show through a window.
*Consider the position of key racks or shelves next to a door and ensure that they cannot be reached through the letter box.
*Use timer switches to turn on lights and radios when you are going to be away from your house at dusk.
*Consider the use of lights at the front and rear of your property that are activated when someone approaches.
*Consider the use of bolts and padlocks on side gates. Place the bolts at the top, middle and bottom of the gate, as just a top bolt might be easy to reach and open.
*A visible intruder alarm box can prove to be one of the biggest deterrents to an opportunist burglar, so consider installing a DIY or supplier installed system.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.