POLICE in the county are reminding people that they can take simple steps to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime this spring.

Criminals are quick to exploit any slackening of security, so police are calling on homeowners, businesses and vehicle owners to keep their guard up.

Crime reduction advisor, Mark Godsland, urged all residents to take a few simple precautions to prevent their homes, businesses and cars from being broken into. "Despite the warm weather home and business owners should keep doors and windows closed and locked as much as possible - even if there is someone on the premises," he said.

"Any valuable items, or items of great sentimental value, should be property marked to make them easily identifiable in the event of a burglary.

"Business owners should take stock of the security measures they have in place at their premises and consider installing extra physical security measures such as locks, security glazing, intruder and fire alarms, security lighting and CCTV. "

He added simple crime prevention techniques also applied to preventing thefts from garden sheds and vehicles.

"Sheds are favourite targets for criminals because many can be broken into relatively easily, and they often contain expensive items such as lawn mowers, power tools and bikes,” he said.

"Shed owners should check the vulnerability of their shed and make it more secure by investing in metal grills for windows, reinforced hinges and strong locks and shed alarms.

“When residents and visitors are out socialising they should take care of their personal property and not present any opportunity for a thief to steal their mobile phone, handbag or wallets.”

Car crime can also be a problem, particularly at a time of year when many motorists are taking the opportunity to visit beauty spots.

The advice being given is drivers should lock their vehicles whenever they are unattended.

"Some people think that they can leave vehicle doors unlocked if they live in a rural area, but thieves do not just operate in towns and cities," said Mr Godsland.

"Leaving high value, removable items on display is also asking for trouble. This applies to such articles as CDs, sunglasses, laptop computers, satellite navigation systems and removable stereos.

“Owners of powered two wheelers should take appropriate precautions when parking their machines, such as using the steering lock, setting the alarm and immobiliser (if fitted), using a disc lock or chaining their vehicle to a ground anchor or secure locking point if available,” he added.

More information can be found at www.gloucestershire.police.uk