Thieves targeting empty houses

POLICE are warning holidaying Launceston residents to lock up securely because thieves are targeting empty houses.

Acting Inspector Michael Gillies said about six break-ins had been reported to police since Christmas Eve, with the Summerhill-West Launceston area the worst hit.

Inspector Gillies said many Launceston residents travelled during the Christmas holidays and thieves seemed to be capitalising on this.

``There has been a series of burglaries in the Launceston area and police would like members of the public to be vigilant,'' he said.

``If you see people hanging around an unoccupied residence, then let us know.''

Inspector Gillies said most thieves were opportunistic so making it more difficult to break in would encourage them not to try in the first place.

``We want to make sure we do not make it easy for the people who are doing this,'' he said.

``Remember, these people know that a lot of people travel away from the city during the holidays.

``It is important to make sure your house looks occupied.''

Inspector Gillies said a recent development had been thieves entering houses looking for car keys because modern cars had more secure locks, so keys should be hidden.

He said another particularly unpleasant aspect was thieves taking Christmas presents, so they should be kept secure.

But Inspector Gillies said thieves had ``traditional'' targets, often looking for electrical items such as computers or valuables such as cash or jewellery.