RESIDENTS are being asked to be canny ahead of Christmas in a bid to deter burglars.

North Yorkshire Police are urging residents to be on their guard ahead of the festive season.

A police spokesman said: "Burglars are often opportunistic thieves who prey on our homes. 

"They seek out any opening that they can take advantage of, specifically doors and windows that are left open or unlocked or are easy to force.

"Anything of value that they might spot through a window, such as expensive gifts or bags full of Christmas presents, will only spur them on. 

"And as the festive season kicks into full swing, burglars may try to take advantage of the darkness to break into your property and steal from you.

"But it really doesn’t take much to deter these thieves. 

"Getting into an ‘exit routine’ whenever you leave your home can help ensure that you don’t forget obvious, important things, like not leaving your valuables near windows, or no lights on if it will be dark before you get home."

Top tips to keep your home safe:

• Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you’re only going out for a few minutes
• Double lock any door
• Make sure that any valuables are out of sight
• Keep handbags away from the letterbox or cat flap and hide all keys including car keys, as a thief could hook keys or valuables through even a small opening
• In the evening, shut the curtains and leave lights on
• If you’re out all day, use a timer device to automatically turn lights and a radio on at night
• Set your burglar alarm
• Make sure the side gate is locked if you have one
• Likewise, always lock your shed or garage 
• And lock your bike inside a secure shed or garage, to a robust fitting bolted to the ground or wall, like a ground anchor