POLICE in North Yorkshire are urging people to pay special attention to the security of their garden sheds.

Sheds attract unwanted attention from thieves during the hours of darkness and the number of them that are raided increases at this time of year.

"Many people have virtually finished for the year with equipment like lawnmowers and strimmers," said PC Peter Taylforth, of the Bedale community policing team.

"So they put them away in the garden shed, along with their bicycles, and forget them.

"The trouble is that thieves are well aware that there are expensive goods out there - and the dark nights provide perfect cover for them to move in."

If there is no alternative to keeping expensive tools and equipment in a shed, police list a series of basic precautions which householders can take. They include keeping boundary fences, walls and gates in good repair, installing security lights with sensors, fixing any weak points in the fabric of the shed, putting mesh or bars on the inside of windows and fitting a good-quality lock.

Fittings should be bolted through the door and reinforced at the back with a steel plate and the padlock should be heavy-duty hardened steel.

PC Taylforth said security was considerably enhanced by the addition of lighting for the shed area and a purpose-made shed alarm.

"For less than £50 you can buy a light and alarm that add both visible and audible protection," he said.

He has arranged a 20 per cent discount on security lights and shed alarms with Upex Electrical Distributors, of Progress Way, Leeming Bar Industrial Estate.