With Christmas around the corner Merseyside Police is warning residents to keep their homes secured against burglars.
While there has been a 35% reduction in burglaries across Merseyside since the force's response to burglary Operation Castle began in March 2018, there tends to be a spike around this time of year.
Detective Chief Inspector Gayle Rooney, who is one of the senior officers on the team, said: "Offenders who break into other people’s homes are stealing far more from their victims than just the face-value of jewellery, electronics or a car.
"A burglary comes at a huge personal cost to the victims. It is so much more than coping with the expense of replacing stolen items and repairing any damage caused. Burglary shatters lives. It is the heartache of losing sentimental items that no money could ever replace and the violation of their feelings of security and safety in their own homes."
Officers are stepping up patrols and encouraging residents to make things as tough as possible for potential burglars by following crime prevention advice and reporting anyone acting suspiciously.
Det Chief Insp Rooney added: "Burglaries have fallen across Merseyside over the last three years thanks to our robust and targeted policing operation - Operation Castle.
"However, you can help us to keep your homes safe. It is very important that people are extra-vigilant this time of year 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.
"We want to help you make sure that your Christmas is remembered for all the right reasons."
In the late autumn and winter homes can be left in darkness for longer, giving criminals more opportunity to break in, but improving security features like locks and alarms, and making sure your house always looks occupied can make a big difference.
People also often leave their doors unlocked while inside their homes and those with UPVC doors can forget to push the handle up as well as turn the key.
Opportunists can try dozens of handles in a street until they find one that opens, so make sure you always lock your windows and doors.
Don’t let offenders spoil your family’s Christmas this year. Make sure you follow crime prevention advice to protect your home and keep unwanted visitors out.
Follow this simple advice to keep your home safe this winter:
Remember to lock all your doors and windows, even if you are at home
Remember to remove keys from doors once they are locked and keep them at a distance from letterboxes
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
Don't leave your car keys on display (on window ledges/worktops) and don't leave them by doors or windows where they could be grabbed with a hook or cane
Keep all your valuables out of sight
Fit outside security lighting and security cameras
During the dark nights, use a light timing device to switch the lights on or smart light bulbs
Always check your front and back door are secure even if you are in, burglaries can often occur via insecure back doors while residents are at home
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
Secure your shed and garage properly. Don't leave tools lying around these could be used to help offender gain entry to your home
Report any suspicious people or vehicles in your neighbourhood. Many crimes are prevented and people arrested after members of the public report unusual or suspicious activity to the police
Further advice on keeping your home secure can be found here: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/