A SENIOR cop hopes they are winning the war on burglars in the run-up to Christmas.

Latest figures show a reduction in burglaries this December - compared to last year when there was a huge surge.

Crooks have broken into 46 homes in the first two weeks of December, compared to 56 in the same period in 2011.

Insp Brad Dickel, of Leigh police, said: “Burglaries are our top priority at the moment. We are still seeing offences, which does fall in line with both a county-wide and national problem. At this time of year, with the evenings drawing in it’s easy to identify which properties are empty, and it’s expected that offence levels increase.”

He said the most common method had been to smash windows or glass panels in doors.

There has not been one key ‘hot spot’ as house burglaries are occuring right across the district.

Mr Dickel said: “I’m not happy, I want zero offences, although there’s a considerable reduction.

“But In comparison to last year it’s considerably better and a lot of hard work has gone into making sure that continues to be the case, certainly in the run-up to Christmas.”

The joint Rochford District and Castle Point Community Safety Partnership (CSP) is advising residents to take some straightforward home security steps to help reduce the risk of crime ruining their Christmas.

They advise you ensure any side gates are locked, and if you have UPVC doors to ensure they are double-locked.

It is also wise to set timers on lights and leave a radio on when you go out - to make the house look occupied.

Position the Christmas tree away from the window and, if no one is at home, move gifts from under it to a safer place.

After the festivities are over, dipose of all packaging, so thieves don’t see what you’ve got.

Rochford councillor Jo Mcpherson, Chair of the CSP, said: “Home security is about developing the right habits and applying them day in, day out.

“This is especially so over Christmas and the New Year when, with everything else going on, it can be easy to overlook our usual routines. “Thieves and burglars count on this. Don’t make it easier for them. Keep your guard up, stay focused on security and you can avoid the heartache and distress of having your home violated. “