Thames Valley Police say there is an increase in criminal activity during the festive season and have issued advice to families to try to ensure they’re not targeted. Officers say there are a number of things which can be done to reduce the chances of Christmas burglaries at homes across the region including: Wokingham, Bracknell, Reading, Henley-On-Thames and surrounding areas:

1. Hide presents from criminals this Christmas

Whether you have children or not, make sure that your presents aren’t visible to criminals. Keep them hidden away until the special day (even if they are wrapped up).

2. Be careful what you post on social media (or online in general)

You might be tempted to show off your amazing skiing holiday pics on instagram or share a funny story of your sunny Christmas retreat on Facebook, but don’t. This is simply announcing to the world that you’re away from home and thus making you an easy target for Christmas burglaries.

3. Look lived in

If you’re going away on that ski trip that you have looked forward to all year, make sure that your house looks lived in. Turning on lights when you’re away can deter burglars. You can purchase timers that will turn lights on automatically, or just ask a friend or neighbour to pop in every once in a while.

4. Triple check locks

Double and triple check your locks before Christmas. It’s sometimes even worth getting a professional to asses your property before the Christmas period to see if there are any weak points in your sedcurity. This is vital especially if you are going away for a few weeks on Holiday.

5. Don’t leave notes

It might be tempting to leave a note to your delivery man saying that no one is in, however this is just an invitation to any burglar that the house is empty.

6. Hide packaging

When you do your recycling once a week, make sure that you hide packaging properly, especially for expensive items. As you don’t want to be advertising that new 50” TV that you have bought for the family now do you.

7. Keep trees and gifts away from windows

Don’t openly display any Christmas presents or trees by the front window, it can be tempting to show off your light to everyone else on the street, however, it makes it easy for criminals to smash the window and grab the presents.

8. Check your home phone’s answering machine message

Make sure you don’t leave a descriptive answer machine message like “We’re currently on holiday with the family in Barbados, leave a message after the beep” as this will simply announce to any criminal that you’re not at home and your home is easy pickings.