POLICE are warning people not give thieves the window of opportunity after a spate of burglaries.
Detectives in east Durham are investigating a string of incidents where Christmas presents, jewellery, laptops, cash and iPods were among the items stolen.
Officers say many of the break-ins, which have been reported in Peterlee, Seaham and the surrounding villages, have been made easier by residents who have left their homes unlocked.
Since October 1, 33 burglaries have been reported in the Peterlee area, with a further six attempted break-ins, while in the Seaham area there have been 28.
In a number of instances, ladders or garden furniture have been used get in through upstairs windows which have been left open.
Detective Sergeant Amanda Howe leads the area’s local priority crime team, which brings together 12 detectives and PCs to deal with crimes, including burglaries.
She said: “I wouldn’t say there’s been a rise compared to last year, but it’s getting closer to that time of year and Christmas and that’s usually when we notice a steady number.
“People need to lock up their homes to keep them safe and report burglaries, some of which have been in broad daylight.
“People need to be vigilant throughout the day and if they are worried about someone they don’t recognise, just ring the police.”
Anyone with information on burglaries is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 0345 60 60 365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.