ONE consequence of the severe wintry weather we have had over the last couple of weeks has been a slight drop in the number of burglaries.
Criminals don't like the cold any more than the rest of us and may be more inclined to keep a low profile when it snows.
The temptation with this phenomenon is to be lulled into a false sense of security.
But it is important to take all the precautions you would normally take to protect yourself and your property.
With that in mind, it is worth reminding householders of the steps they should take to keep their homes and possessions secure.
When you’re out, all doors and windows must be kept locked shut and keys should be hidden away, not visible and within reach of a door or window.
A visible burglar alarm should be fitted - and switched on.
Any tools or ladders, which a burglar could use to break in, should be firmly locked away. Wheelie bins can provide a convenient boost to an open first-floor window.
If you're lucky enough to have fought the onset of the recession long enough to invest in a brand new, top of the range plasma television, don't leave the packaging outside waiting for disposal - you might as well put up a sign saying the house is worth breaking into.
Don't leave your spare key under the front door mat or flower pot.
The vast majority of burglars do not want to be confronted by a startled householder. They want to get in, work undisturbed and get out as quickly as possible with their haul.
So an unoccupied house makes a much more attractive prospect than one with people in it.
If you're going to be away for a prolonged period, don't allow newspapers, milk bottles or mail to build up, cancel regular mail deliveries and ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on the property for you.