Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 19:44 UK

Burglars become police 'advisers'

Burglars have advised residents to lock all windows and doors

Convicted burglars are giving crime prevention advice to Hertfordshire Police in return for a second chance.

Twelve prolific offenders have agreed to admit all past offences and become "security consultants" for the force.

They will work as advisers for three years while undergoing drug and alcohol rehabilitation instead of a possible jail sentence, police said.

The new approach has given a "valuable insight" and levels of home burglaries have already dropped, police said.

'Insider's view'

Advice given so far has included telling residents to close curtains, lock garden tools in the shed and not leave keys in the door if you have a cat-flap.

Det Supt Mark Drew said: "It provides us with specific and accurate information which can help us tackle burglary, and gives us an insider's view on how to deter a burglar.

"We regularly issue advice to residents to help prevent them from becoming a victim of a burglar - not leaving gardening tools lying about, for example.

If you leave a spade or fork in your garden, it is going in the window

"But if it was the burglars themselves who told you that the one piece of equipment they could ask to find outside your house is a spade, I think that might give people a good reason to lock it away."

A force spokesman denied the programme was a "soft option" and said if the offenders returned to crime they would be sent back to court.

Details of the scheme were reported in Police Review magazine which interviewed two criminals, identified as "John", aged 37, and "Neil", 25.

John, who admitted more than 200 offences, said: "Lock your shed. If you leave a spade or fork in your garden, it is going in the window.

"I have gone through cat-flaps - I just removed the flap and crawled through.

"Do not leave your back door key in the door if you have a cat-flap because I can just put my hand through and reach the key."

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