HOUSEHOLDERS are being urged to leave a light on during the dark winter months as a crackdown on burglary gets under way.

Durham police have launched Operation Darc to cut the number of house break-ins.

Last year, there were 2,843 house burglaries in County Durham and Darlington, down from 7,753 a decade ago but the number traditionally rises when the dark nights provide cover for burglars.

Over the coming months, burglary hot spots will be patrolled by uniformed and plain-clothed officers, with known offenders targeted.

Acting Inspector Brad Howe urged householders to take simple precautions, such as leaving a light on, to protect their property.

He said: "Properties left in darkness are more likely to attract burglars than ones that are well lit.

"Light times and dusk-'til-dawn lights help, and it's wise to use locks on windows and mortice locks on doors."