ADVICE on how best to preserve a crime scene after a break-in and how to protect properties from burglars has been published by Wiltshire Police.

The information comes as part of the force's burglary campaign, launched yesterday (Monday).

The campaign, which runs until November 12, aims to educate residents about precautions they can take to protect their home, as well as information on how the force is tackling burglary.

Detective Superintendent Sarah Robbins head of county crime said: “After a recent evaluation into our burglary processes it became apparent that this was an issue that needed to improve.

“We have recognised and accepted these issues and are now pro-actively putting into practice the recommendations made. We have introduced the Community Tasking Team (CTT) – a dedicated resource to not only tackle burglary, but all priority crimes. CTT’s main focus at the moment is improving our dwelling burglary processes and clamping down on offenders.

“The local community remain a vital resource for us in tackling burglary. Throughout this campaign we want to remind everyone of the simple precautions that can be taken to protect your home, as well as our top tips on what to do if you have been burgled.

“If you see anything or anyone suspicious in your neighbourhood, unknown or unexpected doorstep traders, or unusual vehicles – please report it to us via 101”. To improve home security, Wiltshire Police are asking residents to remember the following advice:

• Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even if you’re in the garden, and make sure you have approved locks or bolts on all doors and windows

• Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like in a plant pot or letterbox - a thief knows all the hiding places

• Keep all keys, purses and wallets out of sight and away from the letterbox

• Consider installing a burglar alarm, and only use a company that is registered or certified with the NSI or the SSIAB

• Do not open the door to anyone you don’t know or are not expecting. Always check by using a spy-hole or look through a window

• Make sure that you have up to date contents insurance

• Register all serial numbers from electrical items, tools and garden equipment with (the free national property register). Mark items without serial numbers with an artificial DNA property marker such as Smartwater or SelectaDNA

• Do not keep large amounts of cash at home - it is much safer in a bank or building society

• Trim back any plants and hedges at the front of your property to no higher than 1 metre to remove hiding places

• Always report any suspicious activity, note any vehicle registrations, descriptions of persons involved and direction of travel

• Use a timer to set lights to mimic your usual activity when you are not at home

• Take photographs of all jewellery including hallmarks and keep them safe. Also consider using an artificial DNA property marker on jewellery or other valuable items

• Make sure any bolts are low enough so they cannot be opened by reaching over the top of the gate.

And Wiltshire Police's Crime Scene Investigation team has released advice on what to do if you think you have been burgled:

  • Phone the police immediately on 101 or in an emergency call 999 - Where possible minimise what you touch, especially near the point of entry or items that you believe may have been touched by the offenders 
  • If you suspect the offender is still inside the property - do not enter, advise the police of this when you ring. Confronting the offender can place you in immediate danger
  •  If it is practical wait at a neighbour’s house until the police arrive. If you do need to enter the property; try to locate to one area and try to minimise movement around the house
  • Fingerprints, DNA and footwear marks may not be visible so try to avoid walking on smooth, shiny flooring and touching anything that the offender may have touched or handled
  • If you find something that you suspect may have been used in the burglary as it was not there previously, point this out to the police
  • Preserving evidence is vital. If the item is outside cover the item with a box or something similar to shield it from the elements until the police arrive. Do not touch the item. If you see blood, try to cover this without touching it
  • Remember not all items have forensic value. The police are professionally trained to know what items can be used to obtain forensic evidence, do not be upset if a particular item that you think may contain forensic value, is dismissed by police. The most common types of forensic evidence found at crime scenes are fingerprints, DNA and footwear marks.

If you have any information about offenders or see something suspicious, please call Wiltshire Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. In an emergency dial 999.