RURAL residents are being urged to take action ahead of an expected increase in theft and burglaries.
Police are warning that domestic burglaries are likely to rise the days start getting lighter, and people leave open windows and unlocked doors unattended.
Sergeant Mark Raby, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "Almost 40% of burglaries take place at insecure premises, so please don't leave your purse, phone or car keys near to open windows.
"Potential burglars may try a few doors before they find an open one, so it is also really important that you report any suspicious behaviour immediately."
Reports of thefts from outbuildings, sheds and garages also tend to increase at this time of year - especially in rural areas.
Crime reduction officer Yvonne Mears said: "The value of property stored in sheds and outbuildings is often much greater than householders think.
"The average contents of a garden shed are worth £1,000 but, despite this, security is often overlooked with more than half of garden sheds and garages not locked or adequately secured.
"We want to raise awareness about this and encourage householders to adopt additional security measures where possible."
The warnings come as police in rural Norfolk take to horesback in the fight against crime in the countryside.
Special Constabulary officers have started the mounted patrols as part of a campaign to target rural crime.
After months of working together with World Horse Welfare, three specials and a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) carried out their first patrols on horseback earlier this month.
The aim of the new mounted officers is to help tackle rural crime in the county and will be used as part of the Constabulary's successful Operation Randall.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Nick Dean said: "The scheme will make a real difference as the mounted specials will offer a visible yet reassuring presence in the local communities where they will be patrolling.
"There is also no additional cost to the Constabulary as the specials would be using their own horses."
The initiative will see three officers covering the South Norfolk area and one officer patrolling the North Norfolk area. If successful, it could be extended to other areas.
The officers were assessed by World Horse Welfare staff at the charity's Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Snetterton in February.
Field Officer Jacko Jackson: "Re-introducing officers on horseback is a positive move as it allows them to be seen in areas of the countryside where they traditionally may have not been seen."
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