Top 10s for Christmas - Tips to avoid becoming a victim of crime this Christmas

With the festive season fast approaching homes and cars will soon become filled with the latest must have gifts and gadgets - making them a magnet for opportunistic thieves. PETER WALSH looks at 10 top tips to keep the burglars at bay this Christmas.

1) Deter would-be criminals - Motion sensor lighting (where appropriate), lockable gates and high fences/walls will help make access to your home harder and too noticeable for comfort.

2) Check your doors and windows - Fit (and use) locks to all ground floor windows and fit additional locks to all external doors.

3) Festive lighting - External lighting is an increasingly popular decoration at this time of year but avoid feeding electric cables through partially opened windows - burglars know to look for this vulnerability.

4) Cashing in - Keep the amount of cash you have in the house to a minimum.

5) Make your mark - Security mark (house number and postcode) expensive/attractive items such as TVs, laptops and games consoles and record details and photograph for reference.

6) Don't hide keys - Burglars will know to look for hidden keys under rocks, mats, flowerpots or on ledges. Instead give a spare key to a family member.

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7) Keep curtains and blinds closed at night - Make sure valuable items are left out of sight. When you go out for the evening make use of timer plugs for lights.

8) Secure garages and sheds - Fit additional padlocks and make sure tools are not left lying around the garden and that outbuildings are locked.

9) Plan ahead for holidays - If you are going away over Christmas cancel any newspaper subscriptions and milk deliveries, arrange for a neighbour to park in the driveway while you are away and make use of light timers.

10) Christmas wrapping - Dispose of packaging carefully and try to avoid leaving boxes outside, advertising the new contents of your home.

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