When the longer winter nights arrive, take a fresh look at your home security and remind yourself of how to stay as safe as possible when out and about.

At Home

Keep front and back doors locked at all times and keep keys and valuables out of sight and reach from cat flaps, letterboxes, and downstairs doors and windows

If you’re out in the evening make sure you leave a light on and draw the curtains. If it’s dark before you get home, use timer switches to turn on energy-saving lights

Light up your front door with dusk to dawn lighting – make sure it’s visible from the street

Make sure your home is visible from the street by keeping bushes and fences less than one metre high at the front of your property

Don’t forget about garages, sheds and outbuildings – make sure they’re locked and secure too

Try not to leave your house in silent darkness. Just leaving a radio on could make a potential burglar think twice

Never leave a spare key outside your house, burglars know all the usual hiding spots

Keep bins away from windows when they’re not being used as they can be used as a climbing aid for burglars

Out and About

Plan ahead before you go out. Know where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and how you’ll get back. Let someone know where you’re going, and be prepared for a change of plan

Keep your purse or wallet and keys close and secure. Only take out essential items, and if you can leave valuables at home, do

When you’re out, always walk with confidence, and stick to well-lit, busy areas, using the route you know best

Avoid quiet or badly-let alleyways, subways or isolated car parks. Walk down the middle of the pavement if the street is deserted

Remain aware of your surroundings – don’t walk along texting, making a phone call or listening to music. As well as being distracting, this advertises your valuable to criminals

Trust your instincts – if you don’t feel safe then change your route, remembering to stay in well-lit and busy areas. Don’t be tempted to take short cuts

If you regularly walk home in the dark, get a personal attack alarm – they are widely available and inexpensive

If you regularly jog or cycle, vary your route and times you go out, particularly if you go alone. Try to avoid wooded or remote areas and stick to well-lit roads, or main paths and open spaces. Stay fully alert of your surroundings and don’t use headphones.

If you notice any suspicious activity in your area, please call the police on 101. For more advice on what you can do to protect your home this winter, please visit: www.northants.police.uk/crimeprevention