WATCH out for thieves over Christmas and the New Year, warn Cheshire Police Halton residents are being urged not to forget about security in their homes over the festivities.

DI Simon Blackwell said: "We are urging residents to remain security conscious over Christmas and New Year and to do everything they can to reduce the risk of being targeted by thieves. We would encourage residents to assess their current security measures at home to ensure they have a safe and happy New Year.

"Many of the burglaries that have taken place recently have been as a result of people leaving windows and doors unlocked/insecure. We cannot stress how important it is for people to ensure that these are kept locked and secured. Failure to ensure that you home is secure could cause issues with any subsequent insurance claim.

"It is very easy to be distracted and to forget little things such as making sure doors and windows are locked. Sadly though, this is also the time of year when houses with valuables in are potentially attractive to the opportunist thief."

Residents are being advised to make sure their home looks ‘lived in′ while they are out and about over the festive period. Consider buying timer switches and use them on lights and radios to give the impression that someone is at home.

Valuable items, including purses, handbags and car keys should never be left on display inside the house.

Residents are also being reminded to security mark any valuable items they get for Christmas with their house number and postcode. This can be done by using UV markers or etching tools.

Householders are being reminded not to leave any packaging and boxes from gifts they have received at Christmas on view outside their house. This can show would-be thieves exactly what goodies are inside.

Residents are also urged to be on their guard over the festive periodand to report any suspicious activity to police.

DI Blackwell added: "We are urging residents in Widnes and Runcorn to be on their guard and to report any suspicious activity in their area immediately. Support us working over Christmas and New Year by helping us to make the festive season safer for all."

Anyone with any information about burglary in Warrington, Widnes or Runcorn is urged to contact Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.