Police are warning householders to remove keys from door locks after burglars reached through a cat flap to unlock the door of a house in Leighton.
Detectives say the back door of the property in Riverside was opened from the inside using the key that had been left in the lock.
Jewellery, cash, a laptop and a car key were stolen. The break-in was discovered when the homeowners returned at around 5pm on Sunday, December 1.
There have also been four similar crimes in Biggleswade and Kempston in the past week.
Since proactive burglary patrols began in October, Beds Police has arrested 85 people for burglary and related offences such as going equipped to steal, but continue to urge the public to help prevent crime happening in the first place.
Supt Rob McCaffray, said: “These burglaries are so easily prevented. We always recommend that people remove keys from doors so this type of crime cannot happen. Of course people need easy access to keys in case of fire or emergency but please put them out of sight. We are also still getting reports of people leaving their homes unlocked, we really need to pull together if we are to fight crime and keep burglars out.”
Here are some tips to help lessen the risk of being burgled...
Use your lights – keep them on a timer. Make sure they are switched on early even if you leave them on whilst going shopping or on the school run. And remember; use the lights in a main room and not in the hall way so it looks like someone is home.
Keep your radio on and tuned in to a talk station so it sounds like someone is at home.
Make sure your doors are securely locked at all times. If you have UPVC door make sure they are double locked.
Lock all windows and fit restricters – thieves can wriggle through any gap larger than a human head.
Fit locks at the top and bottom of patio doors.
Visible alarms make burglars think twice – make sure you switch them on when you go out.
Never leave garages or sheds unlocked.
Check for weak spots and sagging fences on your boundary.
Stop a thief from getting into the back of the house where he can work unseen by fitting a strong, high gate across a side passage.
Don’t hide your keys under the mat or in a flowerpot – it’s the first place they look.
Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house while you’re away.
Be alert to strangers loitering in the street. If you don’t recognise them or they are acting suspiciously, call the police on 101.
Don’t forget to security mark your property and register it on www.immobilise.com
And finally remember, if a burglar does get in to your home handbags, wallets, and house or car keys are obvious targets, so please don’t leave them in a prominent position such as at the bottom of the stairs. Remember, the force Key Safe initiative and put your keys safely out of sight.
Anyone with information on offenders should call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously 0n 0800 555 111.