A NUMBER of Burtonwood homes have been daubed with a secret code used by burglars to indicate whether a property is worth targeting.

Would-be offenders have marked buildings on Joy Lane and the surrounding area with chalk to show the ease with which they could be stolen from.

The chilling symbols employed by thieves indicate whether a house is alarmed, if it has already been burgled, if it is a good target, if a vulnerable person lives there, if the resident seems nervous or afraid, if there is nothing worth taking, if it is too risky to target or if the owners are wealthy.

The sketches can be found on walls, footpaths and fences to indicate how fellow burglars should go about stealing from the property.

Victims are often said to be distracted by burglars pretending to be workmen while their accomplices break in and steal valuables.

CSO Dave Brownlee for Cheshire Police said: “We have had reports of marks chalked on roads all around Burtonwood.

“These usually mean the house is a good target for deception and bogus-type burglaries.

“People need to know to be vigilant. If you walk around the estate you will see the marks outside houses there.”

As a result, CSO Brownlee has decided to set up a rural watch scheme for Burtonwood and Winwick that will protect farms and other potentially isolated properties.

If you see the markings (pictured) anywhere call Cheshire Police on 0845 458 0000.