Harrogate police are urging residents to ‘lock it or lose’ it after a recent increase in the number of burglaries and car break-ins.
Officers believe that the rise can be combated with the help of the community who can help reduce further offences by taking preventative security measures.
Although the district has enjoyed falling figures in crimes such as robbery, sexual offences and thefts from outbuildings, burglary and theft from vehicles remains an issue which officers are keen to stamp out.
Sergeant Geoff Crocker, of Harrogate Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Harrogate is one of the safest towns in the safest county in the country, however some people’s complacency over crime prevention is making life easy for criminals.
“We have to act now to ensure that offenders don’t have it their own way. Make life difficult for them, most thieves are opportunistic – if they see an unsecured door or window they will be in.
“What they don’t like is a challenge, it is vital that people take the proper security measures to ensure that their houses or cars are as difficult as possible to get into.
“Over half of burglaries occur at properties that have been left insecure and these offences could have easily been prevented by closing windows and locking doors.”
Sgt Crocker also pointed out that burglaries where offenders force entry to a property are almost exclusively committed at homes which don’t have burglar alarms fitted.
He added: “While investigating a recent burglary, I noticed that the offenders had climbed over several garden fences of neighbouring properties to get to the house.
“All the surrounding properties had burglar alarms, the house that was burgled did not.”
Laptops, jewellery and car keys were stolen from the house and Sgt Crocker is urging residents to consider the loss of possessions and inconvenience against the cost of having adequate security measures installed.
Thefts from unattended vehicles have also gone up in Harrogate, mainly because many people are still leaving their cars unlocked.
Laptops, iPhones, Blackberrys and wallets have all been stolen from insecure vehicles recently, in thefts that could have been easily prevented by locking the door and removing valuable items from view.
Sgt Crocker said: “The lack of security awareness shown by some motorists is staggering, the vast majority of thefts from vehicles have come as a result of the car being left unlocked.
“Thieves are simply walking along the road or up driveways looking for vehicles that have been left insecure.
“We really need to get the message across: lock your car, remove all valuable property and leave nothing on view.”
Police are urging the residents of Harrogate to work with them to make life tough for criminals and help reduce the number of burglaries and thefts occurring in the town.
Local Safer Neighbourhood officers are always happy to give crime prevention advice and everyone can do their bit to ensure their homes and cars are secure.
Sgt Crocker added: “We need to ensure firstly that thieves aren’t getting an easy steal and secondly that they have an increased risk of getting caught.
“The first part of this has to come from the community by observing basic security procedures including using locks that they already have.
“The second part is down to the police, to relentlessly pursue criminals, put them before the courts and continue to reduce crime in Harrogate District.”
Sgt Crocker has offered his top 10 crime prevention tips to residents wishing to guard against burglary and theft.
Remove all valuables from your vehicle and ensure it is locked.
Keep keys in a safe place, out of reach of doors and windows.
Get a burglar alarm fitted preferably from a SSAIB or NSI approved company.
Part set your alarm before going to bed.
Photograph expensive jewellery, mark it with Smartwater and keep it in a safe.
Photograph and mark expensive antiques and pictures.
Create an immobilise account at www.immobilise.com and record your possessions on the database.
Join your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
Check your door lock. If it does not show kite mark BS3621, contact the police, a locksmith or your NHW coordinator.
If you see something suspicious report it.
For more crime prevention advice, visit the North Yorkshire Police website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/crimeprevention