CRIME reduction advisers are urging residents to make sure that their gardens do not give burglars an easy time.

David Price said that homeowners can improve the security of their home by taking a few simple steps to make their gardens less burglar-friendly.

He said: "When we look at crime reports for burglaries we often find that the offenders have simply walked down the side of a house, because there is no gate or the gate has been left open, and then they have gained access through the back door or window.

"It is very important to install a high gate across a passageway and ensure it is padlocked, because if a burglar can get round the back easily they can work without being disturbed."

Other security tips to secure the back and side garden include fitting strong, high fences with extendable trellis on top and planting prickly plants around the perimeter of gardens.

Mr Price said: "A thorny hedge around the rear boundary of your property can put thieves off. But make sure that passers-by can still see the front of your home so that a burglar can't work without being seen."

Another weak spot in a garden can be the shed. Not only are these often used to store expensive goods like cycles and power tools, but they often contain items, such as ladders, which can make it easier for a burglar to gain entry to a house.

He said: "Never leave a garden shed unlocked.

"Fit strong padlocks to shed doors and make sure that the doors and hinges are solid enough not to be kicked in.

"Lock all garden tools away in the shed and consider having lockable steel boxes fitted to the floor to store your tools, or anchor posts fitted to the floor to secure larger tools and equipment.

"People should also ensure that they mark the property they store in their sheds."

More security advice can be found on the Thames Valley Police website at Safer Homes.