BURGLARS are taking advantage of the extra hours of darkness in Hillingdon.

When the clocks changed last week, there were 17 burglaries that night - up from an average of three.

As properties remain in darkness for longer, it makes them easier to target.

Police have started a seasonal burglary awareness campaign, Operation Bumblebee, to let people know the simple preventative steps which can be taken, such as fitting alarms, making sure homes are locked and keeping valuables out of view.

A spokesman said, as evenings get darker, burglars are on the prowl for valuables and cash, recognising that homes tend to be getting ready for seasonal celebrations and may have gifts and items on display.

Borough Commander Steve Kershaw said: "Being burgled is a distressing experience and the memory of the offence can have a lasting effect. The Met takes burglary seriously - we want people to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

The top ten burglary prevention tips are:

Mark or etch your property with your post code, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.

Register items with a serial number at www.immobilise.com

Do not leave your car keys, valuables or ID documents near a door, letterbox or window.

Always check who's at the door and don't open it if you feel anxious.

Close and double lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.

Keep your valuables out of sight.

Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.

Fit a mortice lock to your front door and other external doors.

Consider installing a burglar alarm.

Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked.

Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time.

For more information, visit http://content.met.police.uk/Site/crimepreventionbumblebee