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21 July 2010, 07:18
A former burglar's been telling HEART that social networking sites are making it easier for thieves to target our homes.
His warning comes as Dorset Police report burglary figures here are up a fifth on this time last year, and so far this month there's been 113 break-ins.
Richard Taylor says with sites like facebook, it's not just strangers we have to worry about:
"If you've added a friend of a friend of a friend, which does happen, it might be someone you went to school with but don't actually know any more, or even just someone who recognises you from somewhere - you need to ask yourself how well do I know this person?
"If you did know them from school, it's impossible to know how they've turned out. They could email you pretending to be friendly, asking where you live now and what you do, but really have other motives.
"A lot of people announce on their status how they're off on holiday - these people could then target your home. You need to be really careful who you add as a friend on facebook and not just accept anyone just because they've requested it."
Richard has also been telling HEART how people in Dorset can better protect their homes from thieves:
"As a burglar, if I saw a dog, then that was it - I wouldn't go in that property as they're just too unpredictable. It's also important to consider things like gates, or even a gravel path, anything that creates noise or makes it harder to get in will put off thieves.
"Alarms are also a big deterrent -a lot of people have lost faith in them because they think nobody will call the police if they hear one, but if you're a thief inside a house with an alarm going off, you just want to get out - they do work."
Dorset Police are also reminding us to keep our homes secure during the hot weather and not to leave windows and doors unlocked. They're giving this advice to homeowners:
- Make sure you lock doors, windows and gates even when you are home. Lock your sheds and garages too.
- Check that the garden is clear of objects that can be used to smash doors and windows, and remove anything that aids climbing. Also lock bicycles.
- Do not leave bags, purses, keys or valuables on view near doors and windows. Laptops, games consoles and satnavs should be hidden from view.
If you still have concerns over the security of your home, contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team for advice on 01202 222 222.