A convicted burglar has advised how they find vulnerable homes to steal from.

They said: “I look for houses where it looks like no-one is in.

“I don’t want to be seen as there’s more chance of being caught and I don’t really want to scare people. I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

“If the lights are off when it’s dark in the daytime, no cars on the drive, maybe even letters hanging out of the letter box and curtains still drawn in the daytime, I’d give this one a go. They can stand out a mile.”

Police are advising residents to give their homes a lived-in look so that homes with no lights on in the evenings do not look more inviting to burglars.

Hertsmere Detective Inspector Graeme Walsingham said: “As darkness begins to fall earlier in the day, especially after the clocks change, your home can look unoccupied, and more inviting for burglars, if there are no lights on.

“This is what happened last October when we saw burglaries rising across Hertsmere. There were over 20 burglaries every month during June, July, August and September 2016. But last October, it rose to 44 burglaries.

“To avoid this happening again this year, we have a burglary strategy in place which includes extra high-visibility police patrols as well as covert patrols in residential areas.

“We have made several arrests and are pursuing offenders who come into Hertsmere to commit burglaries.

“But crucially, we also need residents to do their bit to deter crime by giving their homes a ‘lived-in’ look and to let us know about anyone acting suspiciously.”

Installing a timer for the lights or asking a neighbor to park on the driveway, make sure that post is pushed all the way through mail boxes, or to collect parcels if there is no one there to answer the door.

Dogs also work well as a deterrent for intruders, and ensuring that all doors and windows are locked will make sure it is harder for people to break into properties.

For more information visit www.herts.police.uk/crimeprevention.