Police have warned residents to stay switched on as the clocks go back and darker winter nights come in.

Winter nights provide increased opportunities for opportunist thieves to operate under the cover of darkness and police are urging local residents to boost their security.

Sergeant Jason Peter, of the Irvine Locality Policing Team, said: “Leaving your home in complete darkness is a clear sign to housebreakers that it may be empty which, with the sun setting before most people get home from work during the winter, is an open invitation to opportunistic thieves.

“We would encourage you to consider leaving a light on or investing in a timer switch which will give the appearance that someone is in.

“Simple steps such as ensuring all the windows and doors are locked when you go out, as well as keeping valuables (including vehicle keys) out of sight and away from letterboxes – or anywhere else that is easily accessible, are key to helping prevent break-ins.”

If you notice any suspicious activity or believe a crime is in progress you are urged to call the police immediately on 999.