A SPATE of burglaries and thefts to homes, garages and sheds across Oxford has sparked a warning from the city's neighbourhood police inspector to be vigilant of 'opportunities' for thieves to strike.

Between Monday and Friday last week a total of 16 break-ins into sheds, houses, garages and flats were recorded by the city's neighbourhood police officers.

Of the crimes, eight were reported in Headington and Marston, with four recorded in Jericho, with others in East Oxford and South Oxford.

Acting Inspector Martyn Williams told the Oxford Mail the force had stopped a spate in North Oxford in recent weeks, but added the best way to reduce burglaries was to prevent them.

Insp Williams said the neighbourhood teams were investigating the most recent spree, but urged members of the public to asses the security, and potential opportunities thieves may see to break into homes.

He added: "Sadly there will be another series of crimes at some point, but for us the key thing is prevention.

"My advice to residents is to have a look at your own house and the houses in your road and if you can see opportunities, which a burglar might see, then they are more likely to target that area.

"If everyone makes it harder then it becomes harder for them."

At this stage, it is not known if the burglaries reported during last week were linked, but Insp Williams said in the past, homes closely accessible to Oxford's ring road had been targeted by criminals from outside of the city.

Insp Williams said making sure windows and doors were closed and locked during the warmer months would deter would-be thieves.

He added: "We take this sort of crime very seriously. It's not a nice crime to be a victim of.

"If people are concerned in their area they can come to us and ask for advice.

"One example may be someone had left their ladder in their garden after doing the guttering on their house, that's an opportunity for someone."

It is believed the majority of burglaries have been 'opportunistic' in the past week, with some noting the warmer weather has seen more families out of their homes and also more windows being open.

Items stolen from the properties, some which were completely ransacked by thieves, range from laptops, wallets, bank cards, cash and keys, to bicycles, electrical appliances and registration plates.

Some thieves turned over properties but stole nothing.

Oxfordshire County Councillor for Headington one of the areas affected in the recent spate, Roz Smith, said she was aware of the spate, added residents had met with officers at a neighbourhood action group meeting to raise their concerns.

The Liberal Democrat councillor, a victim of burglary and attempted burglary in her own home some years ago, added: "It's really upsetting, I have to say when it does happen to you.

"You really feel quite violated, people coming into your own home and personal space.

"It does mean people have to make themselves much more aware.

"They are considered a low crime compared to others, but it's a nasty thing to have happen. It's really unpleasant."