POLICE urge residents to 'be on their guard' as the winter nights are drawing in.

North Wales Police confirm that thieves are likely to target elderly and vulnerable people in their homes during the later afternoon and early evening.

Inspector Steve Owens, of the South Flintshire policing team, said his team of officers have launched a new operation called Op Blue Torrent which is a policing response to the predicted increase in twilight burglaries.

He told the Leader: "Neighbouring forces are already suffering. West Mercia and Cheshire in particular have seen an increase already.

"North Wales is yet to suffer an increase this year but we aim to get ahead. We have taken steps as a division to make residents feel safe.

"It is a proactive response to address any predicted incidents."

The inspector confirmed that the force will increase its patrol officers and work alongside the Roads Policing Unit and will 'share intelligence' with other forces.

He added: "We are also linking in with Trading Standards and building on the intelligence they receive from cold callers.

"The vulnerable residents who receive cold callings in are community will also be more likely to suffer a burglary at some future date.

"We have also spoken to OWL who will circulate information and tips on how to stay safe to residents, asking for vigilance and any information in relation to this type of behaviour.

"We will be having new weekly meetings to discuss the ongoing operation."

The Inspector told the Leader that officers aim to prevent burglaries to vulnerable residents.

He said: "What we have done so far is visit all repeat victims of burglaries because we are aware people are revisited and they are vulnerable.

"Flintshire South hasn't received any reports of such offences as of yet but these steps are in place as the dark nights come in."

The Leader previously reported that force-wide, North Wales Police has already received reports of incidents in Bangor-on-Dee, Pentre Broughton and Deeside.

DCI Gary Kelly said: "At this time of year we see a rise in this type of crime where thieves turn up on the doorstep offering to carry out maintenance and repair work often claiming to be from the council or a utility company to gain access to a home and steal money and property.

"They will at times use this visit to familiarise themselves with the property only to return and commit a burglary of the premises at a later date."

Tips on how to stay safe and respond to cold callers can be found online at www.north-wales.police.uk/your-neighbourhood.