HOMEOWNERS in Warrington East have been warned over an increase in ‘catflap’ burglaries.

Sgt Neil Orford, from Cheshire Police, said cases of burglaries in which a catflap has been used to gain entry are on the up.

Homes are being targeted that have a catflap in the rear door.

He said intruders are reaching in and removing keys from locks left hanging in doors.

Keys that have been left on hooks or in bowls within reach of a catflap are also being taken, in a method known as ‘hooking’.

The burglar reaches in and uses an instrument to snare keys.

Doors are then unlocked and homes ransacked, according to police.

Burglaries have increased across the town in recent weeks, with 60 recorded in December and more than 30 so far this month.

Police are warning residents to ensure homes are safe, particularly during the early evening, a high risk period for break-ins.

Sgt Orford said: “Lets not make things easy for these offenders.

“By following simple steps we can reduce the opportunities to commit crime.

“Remove keys from locks once they have been secured. Do not leave keys on view. Lock and secure any side gates in order to restrict access to the rear of your properties.

“Please be vigilant during the upcoming days and report any suspicious activity.”

To report a burglary call 101, or in an emergency 999.

For home safety advice, go to cheshire.police.uk.