Homeowners have been warned to keep their doors, windows and conservatories locked when not in use after an insurance firm predicted a dramatic rise in burglaries during 2009.
Norwich Union suggested the number of break-ins could increase by as much as 50 per cent – or 140,000 cases – during the course of the year, mainly due to the recession.
The company advised homeowners to take steps to avoid becoming a victim, such as keeping valuables locked away and cancelling milk deliveries when off on holiday.
It explained keeping gardens and conservatories in good order would suggest to burglars that the property is secure.
"Although theft represents a small percentage of home insurance claims, we are still concerned by the effect this could have on homeowners," said Norwich Union director of pricing Simon Warsop.
The advice comes in the weeks after Saga and Halifax both warned customers to be wary of garden thieves during the summer months.