Issue Date: 23/6/2003



HOMEOWNERS across Sussex are being warned to keep doors and windows closed when they go out during the summer months in a bid to slash the number of burglaries throughout the holiday season.

Some 30% of house burglaries in Sussex are carried out as a result of unlocked doors and windows during June, July and August. Because of the warm days and nights, home owners are more likely to leave their properties insecure.

Now the Force has launched Operation Sunshine to try and get the number of burglaries to fall as the temperatures rise.

Inspector Mick Pollitt, from the Community Safety Department, said: “It sounds like simple advice, but when it is hot outside people are less likely to close and lock doors and windows, particularly if they are ‘just popping out’, are in the garden, or on warm summer evenings night.

“To the opportunist burglar, it is almost an invite. If a door is left unlocked, it makes it so easy for someone to get in and steal property. Burglars are particularly interested in things that are easy to sell such as televisions, videos, computers, jewellery and antiques.”

To raise awareness about Operation Sunshine, officers will be putting up posters on street lamps throughout Sussex and giving leaflets to members of the public containing crime prevention advice. This advice includes:

* If you are out in the back garden ensure that your front door and all accessible windows are secure
* Fit a 5-lever lock (to British Standard BS 3621) to your front and back doors with slide bolts both top and bottom. If you have an integral door for the garage, this should also have a 5-lever mortice lock and slide bolts.
* French windows and patio doors should be fitted with a security mortice bolt. Get specialist advice on fitting these locks.
* Most opportunist criminals prefer to remain anonymous, so think of fitting security lighting, either dusk to dawn low level lighting or Infra Red Passive. You can also consider pea shingle on beds, gravel path and driveway, and plants with sharp spikes under windows and down pipes.
* Fit a bar chain or bar and, if you have a solid front door, a wide angle door viewer. Don’t let anyone into your home you don’t know. Check identification. Official visitors won’t mind being asked for ID. Be vigilant.
* Empty boxes left outside advertise that you have new goods inside, so dispose of packaging and boxes carefully.
* Property mark your valuables by using your postcode and your house number or name. Some articles are unsuitable for marking so photograph them against a plain background with a ruler next to them.
* Put your garden tools away in a secure garage or tool shed, as they could be used to break into your home. Secure your garden shed with strong hinges, hasp and staple, good padlock and window locks.
* Intruder alarms are an effective deterrent against burglars. Before choosing a system ensure it is the most suitable for your needs.
* Join a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. For details of a local scheme or to start a new one phone us on 0845 60 70 999 and ask for the Crime Prevention Co-ordinator in your area.

“When it’s warm, people forget to take the most simple of precautions such as locking the front door when out in the back garden,” said Inspector Pollitt. “They are then left devastated when their home and privacy is invaded by burglars.

“But there is a lot that home owners can do themselves to help us bring the number of burglaries down. Operation Sunshine is about just that – preventing the burglary from happening in the first place. We would always prefer to prevent a crime than detect one.”