POLICE are warning people not to give thieves the window of opportunity after a spate of burglaries.
Detectives in East Durham are investigating a string of incidents across Peterlee, Seaham and surrounding villages, where Christmas presents, jewellery, laptops, cash and iPods were among the items stolen.
Officers say many of the break-ins have been made easier by residents who have left their homes unlocked.
Since October 1, 33 burglaries have been reported in the Peterlee area, with a further six attempted break-ins.
In the Seaham area, 28 have been reported, with three of those carried out on the East Shore Village estate.
In a number of instances, ladders or garden furniture have been used to get in through upstairs windows which have been left open.
Detective Sergeant Amanda Howe leads the area’s local priority crime team, which brings together 12 detectives and Pcs to deal with crimes, including burglaries.
She said: “I wouldn’t say there’s been a rise compared to last year, but it’s getting closer to that time of year and Christmas and that’s usually when we notice a steady number.
“People need to lock up their homes to keep them safe and report burglaries.
“If they have any information they can contact Crimestoppers or the crime team here.
“Some of these burglaries have been in broad daylight and people can hear alarms going off, but nobody does anything about it.
“People need to be vigilant throughout the day and if people are worried about someone they don’t recognise in their area, just ring the police.
“We will get someone out to make checks.
“And if you’re going away, tell your neighbours, and look after each other’s property, because the more people stick together and look out for each other, the harder it is for them.”
Police have recommended timer switches are put in use if people are out at night or going away.
Households are also being advised to lock away valuables.
Anyone with information on burglaries is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 0345 60 60 365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.