A SHARP rise in burglaries in St Neots has prompted police to warn residents about the importance of home security.

A SHARP rise in burglaries in St Neots has prompted police to warn residents about the importance of home security.

Figures have increased steadily since December last year when, according to crime-mapping website police.uk, there were four recorded burglaries in the town.

This shot up to eight in January, with 10 burglaries recorded in the last two weeks of February alone.

Inspector Mark Greenhalgh of St Neots police said thieves were targeting easily seizable items such as jewellery and small electronic gadgets, and warned people to be extra vigilant.

“I would urge people to be good neighbours,” he told The Hunts Post.

“Whenever anybody sees something at all suspicious, no matter how trivial, they should report it to the police immediately.”

One man who has learned the hard way about the importance of home security is Michael Kerr, of Rigdeway, St Neots.

The 39-year-old father of two recently had both his car and his house broken into by crooks who got away with thousands of pounds worth of valuables.

He told The Hunts Post: “We went out for the day and came back to find the patio doors of our house open.

“They had climbed over the back gate, which was locked with two bolts, and used screw-drivers to prize open the kitchen window.”

Once inside, the burglars rifled through the whole house, stealing laptops, iPods, televisions, and XXXXX in cash, which the family had saved towards their holiday in Tenerife later this year.

They eventually escaped through the patio doors with the loot.

“It's a horrible feeling,” Michael explained. “Luckily everything they took was replaceable, but the thought of people violating your own space is awful.

“My wife, in particular, no longer feels comfortable at home alone, and as a family we all feel very vulnerable.”

Michael has since set about beefing up his home security, and is considering all the options: “I'm looking at any sort of deterrent at the moment,” he said.

“I've already had security lighting installed, but we're looking at getting an alarm fitted and even some CCTV.

“There have been other burglaries like this in the area, so it's important to make your house as secure as possible.”

INFORMATION: If you see any one acting suspiciously or want to report a burglary, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Dos and Donts for home security

DO

• Remember to keep windows locked. Remove the keys and keep them out of sight in a safe place.

• Keep your doors locked even when you are at home.

• Keep your purse/keys, including car keys, out of sight.

• Use thorny plants and bushes to deter access at vulnerable positions.

• Ensure your property looks occupied when you are out.

• Lock away ladders, garden tools, spades and forks that otherwise might be used by burglars.

• Property-mark your possessions.

• Ask a friend or neighbour to look after your home if you are going away and cancel any milk, newspapers or regular house deliveries.

• Trim back any plants or hedges that a burglar could hide behind.

DON'T

• Keep large amounts of cash in the home.

• Attach your house key to a piece of string through the letterbox or leave keys in the lock (on the inside of the door) especially if you have a catflap.

• Leave your back door open when you are out in the garden.

• Position your dustbins or wheelie bins near gates or fences where they can be used to climb over.

• Leave car keys on hall tables or stairs and thereby accessible to burglars through the letterbox with a hook or magnet device.

• Leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat or in a flower pot.

• Leave boxes from replacement electrical items outside for refuse collection. Either break them up and hide them in your bin or take them to a rubbish tip.

• Do not use barbed or razor wire or broken glass on the top of garden walls or fences. You can be held legally responsible for any injuries caused and there are safer alternatives.

• Leave unlocked a garage, shed or outbuilding that might contain expensive tools or tools that are ideal for breaking into the rest of the house.

• Leave your curtains closed during the daytime