POLICE are urging residents to ensure they do not become victims of crime this Christmas.

As the festive season approaches, West Mercia Police are encouraging people to ensure they take precautions to keep their homes, valuables and vehicles safe.

Police are reminding householders there are simple steps they can take to make life more difficult for offenders.

PC Andy Wallace said residents should never leave presents where they can be seen from a door or window, and don't place them under the Christmas tree until the last moment. It is also not recommended gifts are stored in wooden sheds.

When the house is unoccupied, residents should try to give the impression someone is at home, by leaving lights or a radio on.

Anyone who is going away for the festive season is urged to ask neighbours to keep on eye on their property, or consider joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. If an alarm is fitted, ensure it works.

There are also simple precautions people can take to avoid making their Christmas shopping more stressful than is necessary.

Shoppers are urged not to leave gifts in their cars, as thieves target car parks and may be waiting for people to bring bags of presents back to their cars before heading back to the shops.

People should also remain vigilant in busy stores, keep bags zipped up and have wallets, purses and other valuables out of sight in pockets if possible.

PC Wallace said: "When it comes to both home and vehicle security, the simple message to remember is, If you leave it on show, expect it to go.”

More crime prevention advice is available on West Mercia Police’s website, westmercia.police.uk.