Northamptonshire Police are urging people to consider whether bargain deals on second-hand goods could be linked to criminal activity.
An operation`s been launched to tackle offences like burglary and theft from vehicles which traditionally rise as the longer winter nights set in.
Detectives will be stepping up patrols in hotspot areas as well as using the latest technology to target offenders and offering crime prevention and home security advice.
Anyone with information on any crime, including the handling of stolen goods, is asked to contact the police or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.
Crime prevention advice for darker nights:
•Keep front and back doors locked at all times and keep keys and valuables out of sight and reach from cat flaps, letterboxes and downstairs doors and windows
•Close, and ideally lock, all windows when you’re not in the room – approximately one in four burglaries in the county still happen because doors have been left unlocked or windows left open
•If it’s dark before you get home, use timer switches to turn on the lights – change the times that the lights come on, to create the illusion that someone is moving around inside the house. Plug-in dusk-to-dawn lights are also popular
•Make sure your door is well lit and fully visible from the street – dusk-to-dawn lamp adaptors are available from DIY stores
•Check existing lighting is in good working order and replace any faulty equipment – remember to check batteries in torches and smoke alarms
•Keep shrubbery and hedges at the front of the house pruned to below one metre – remove any cover for a burglar to work unseen and give your neighbours every chance to spot something suspicious
•Keep curtains closed at night – if you are away, ask a trusted neighbour to close them for you, and open them again in the morning
•On cold mornings, never leave your car unattended with the engine running to defrost the windows
•Assess your property’s perimeter and check it is secure. Cut back overgrown hedges and repair broken fences and gates
•Secure sheds and outbuildings with good padlocks and consider fitting alarms. Lock all tools and ladders away securely
When out and about
•When out in your car, look out for Park Mark accredited car parks and remove all items from your vehicle when you leave it
•Don’t leave your keys in the ignitions, even when filling up with fuel or popping into the shop
•De-clutter your handbag – take out only what you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash
•When you’re out shopping, keep all bags firmly closed and on your person at all times
•Carry wallets and phones in inside pockets of jackets or coats, not in the back pocket of trousers
•When using your credit or debit card, shield your PIN and take the time to make sure you safely put away your purse or wallet
•Never leave your bag unattended on the back of trolleys or pushchairs
•Don’t be tempted to return to your car and drop off your shopping bags – keep them with you or take them home
If you see anything suspicious, or have an information about crime or criminals, call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.