Warning as burglars target homes by dropping gnomes in gardens

After several residents noticed unusual “Christmas gnomes” on their property, police issued an urgent warning.

Although they appear to be innocent, officials have warned that they may have a more “sinister” motive.

North Wales Police’s Flintshire North branch published the warning on social media, along with an example image of the festive décor.

Gnomes are light enough to be thrown over a fence and could serve as a “calling card” for criminals to identify which properties may be vacant or vulnerable.

If a resident notices the gnome, they are unlikely to keep it in place, which means the decorations could reveal which residences are vacant.

A spokesman for the Flintshire North branch of the force wrote on social media: “We are aware of a report of individuals in the Broughton area leaving Christmas gnomes in residential front gardens.

“This type of behaviour is sometimes used as a ‘calling card’ to see if the gnome is collected by the resident.

“If not, the property is likely to be empty and could be an easy target for burglaries.

“We would advise residents to be vigilant and secure their homes.”

“Anyone who witnesses anything suspicious is urged to contact us via our website or through 101.”

The force also directed residents to extra home security recommendations, such as fastening windows, installing cameras, building fences, and keeping any garden equipment out of sight or stored up.

For ground-floor windows, laminated glass or security film is recommended, and the police ask that nothing be beneath the window that could aid potential burglars in climbing up.

They also warn that criminals tend to target upper floors first using ladders.

North Wales Police advises: “Burglars have been known to use ladders to access upper windows that appear to be unlocked.

“This is to avoid intruder alarm sensors on the lower floor.

“These ladders are either found in a garden or brought by the suspect. You should make sure windows on upper floors have locks or sash stops.

“You should also extend any alarm sensor coverage to upper rooms.”

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