Homeowners are being warned of an increase in burglaries and bogus callers during longer winter evenings.

Almost half of winter burglaries take place between 5pm and 11pm, with 20% of them involving an unsecured home, gardaí have said.

A third of burglars enter through the front door, with most using their own body to force their way into a home.

An Garda Síochana's Lock Up Light Up campaign is encouraging people to protect themselves and their homes during dark evenings and to be aware of ongoing scams.

Sergeant Graham Kavanagh of the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit said "simple steps" could prevent theft.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, he said "In the dark times, lighting is a good deterrent for criminals. They don't like to be in areas that are well lit."

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"We know that if you make the place look occupied, they're less likely to target that location, and we saw that more so over the last few years. Occupancy was a huge driver for driving down this crime of burglary."

He added that some people do not want to leave lights on because of the energy crisis, but LED lighting is both cheap and efficient.

People are also being told to get into a habit of locking all doors and windows and ensure their house alarm is working.

Jewellery and cash are the most common items stolen, with devices like computers and mobile phones also targeted.

According to gardaí there has been a 15% increase in bogus tradesman fraud so far this year.

There has also been an increase in the number of incidents of people impersonating gardaí and looking to inspect cash or check the security of the property.

Gardaí say they will not cold call to a house with these requests and will carry identification with them.