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Havering residents are advised to ensure they secure their homes as the winter nights draw in.

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The council said the biggest invitation to burglars during dark nights is a home in darkness between 4pm and 9pm as it is a clear sign that no-one is home.

It issued advice including using timer switches on lights and radios, switching them on automatically during the early evening giving the impression that someone is home; ensuring all windows and doors are locked and add extra locks where necessary; property marking valuable items with a postcode and house number.

Residents with UPVC doors should be extra careful to make sure they are fully locked by lifting the handle, locking the door and removing the key. Car and house keys should also be kept in a safe place, accessible to residents, but should never be kept near letterboxes, windows or doors, where they can be viewed and even stolen by thieves.

The council’s advice includes removing valuables from vehicles, including handbags and sat navs and locking the vehicle.

Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Dark houses on autumn evenings are an open invitation to burglars that the home is empty, but by taking simple steps our residents could reduce the risk of falling victim to thieves.”

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