POLICE are warning New Forest businesses to guard against thieves who are targeting outside storage areas in the run-up before Christmas.

The Safer New Forest Partnership also urges householders and farmers to be vigilant and take steps to secure their property - particularly vulnerable outbuildings, sheds and garages - from intruders.

New Forest Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson said: “I would advise businesses and residents alike to protect their property from burglars, especially when it is left in outdoor buildings which may be easier to access. Secure your outbuildings and don’t leave anything of high value on show or unprotected.”

To reduce the risk of your premises becoming the targets of thieves, the following advice can help improve your security:

• Ensure that all outside storage facilities, such as sheds and containers, are locked with a heavy duty secure padlock.

• Fit good quality locks to gates, entrances and on any portable machinery on your land.

• Improve outdoor security with external passive infra-red lights, CCTV and alarms.

• Do not park vehicles or store large items, such as bins, against a fence, as this will provide easier access.

• Keep tools and high-value goods, including metal, out of sight and locked away. Store any valuable items inside the main property, if possible.

• Always ask workmen for ID - criminals will often adopt disguises to access your property and gain your trust.

• Security mark your property and display notices saying your property is security marked.

Police are urging people to report any suspicious activity, including descriptions of suspects and vehicles, including number plates.

Safer New Forest offers a high quality padlock available at £10 from New Forest District Council information centres.

Information about the work of the Safer New Forest Partnership can be found at communitysafety.newforest.gov.uk.