THIEVES are taking advantage of householders' carelessness and having a field day stealing items from garden sheds.

The problem has got so bad that a specialist police officer has drawn up a list of dos and don'ts to prevent any more thefts.

East Ayrshire Safer Communities Officer, PC Craig Marshall, has taken the action following a recent rise in reported thefts from sheds.

He said that a few simple precautions will reduce the chances of a thief stealing from your shed this summer.

Location — Locate your shed in your garden so you can clearly see the door and window of your shed while you are still within your home.

Locks — Use a good quality padlock/hasp or mortice lock on the door. If using a hasp, ensure the screws are covered and cannot be accessed by a screwdriver.

Alternatively use non-returnable security screws or coach bolts instead.

A closed shackle padlock is less easy to access and cut with a bolt cutter.

If fitting a mortice lock ensure the door panel and frame are strong enough to hold the fixtures.

Hinges — Having protected the locking side of the shed door ensure the hinges cannot be easily removed. Use non-returnable security screws or coach bolts.

Doors — Make sure the doors and panels of the shed are strong enough not to be kicked in or forced by bodily pressure.

Windows — Deter window shopping by placing a screen, net curtain or even a bin bag over the inside of the window.

Fitting Perspex or laminated glass will offer good protection.

Lighting — Cover the shed or garage with a PIR security light. Thieves do not like to be seen. A light suddenly coming on is a good deterrent and should scare them away.

Alarms — If you have a house alarm, consider extending it to cover your shed and garage. You can also get single stand-alone battery operated alarms specifically designed for sheds.

Ladders — Lock ladders inside your shed or garage to stop a thief using them to reach an upstairs window. Alternatively chain them to the fence or a down pipe.

Valuables — Use a ground or wall anchor to secure your bike or other valuables in your shed. Lock valuables together to prevent them being easily removed.

Visibly and permanently mark your property. It helps identify it as yours and is less desirable for a thief.

Mr Marshall added: “By following some of this simple advice you can help stop yourself becoming a victim of theft. If you see anyone acting suspiciously or have any information about those responsible you should contact your local policing team on 101 or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 where anonymity can be maintained.

“If you wish further advice in relation to any security matters around your home including shed security then please contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 101.”

Further advice is available on the Police Scotland website.