It is the Summer and everyone is in high spirits especially with the great weather and holidays we have been enjoying lately. However if you are leaving your home unattended it is important not to let your guard down.

It's vital to have your home properly prepared to avoid unnecessary worry or, worse still, a message from home that someone has broken in.

With some simple steps you can protect your home and belongings from thieves.

1. All locked up

Police suggest many opportunistic thieves take advantage of unlocked homes. Even if you are going out for a short time, lock-up your house and close your windows. Your local locksmiths will be able to provide advice on appropriate door and window locks.

2. Don't provide cover

Deter theives from targeting your house by ensuring a clear line of sight from the street. Cut back trees and bushes that obscure your front door, look into installing movement sensor lights and report broken street lights immediately.

3. Upgrade your defences

A solid core door with a deadlock, for example, is harder to force, grills and shutters prevent burglars from breaking in through windows, and a peep hole or lockable security screen can help keep burglars out.

4. Monitor all targets

Garages and garden sheds are often targets for burglars who can then use your tools or ladders to gain access to the main house. Ladders can be locked away or chained up.

5. Security doesn't take a holiday

Ask friends to collect your mail and to stop junk mail from building up in your letterbox while you're away from home. A neighbour parking in your driveway can also help signal the house is not unoccupied. Other measures include internal lights or a TV set on timers and organising for someone to mow your lawn.

6. Guard your keys

Most people know not to hide keys somewhere about the house but are you also aware that lending your keys to tradespeople and acquaintances can pose a risk? Keys are easily copied and can provide burglars with fast, no-fuss access to your belongings.

7. Store valuables in a safe

Research suggests that money and jewellery are most often stolen in break-ins. Installing a small safe in your home is a relatively low cost way to protect those items.

8. Don't advertise valuables

Break up packaging for expensive new gear before tucking it into the bin or recycling. Also, take a look at your house from the outside. With most thieves looking for cash, even a wallet or laptop left on your hall table can make your home a target. Speaking of valuables, police advise making an inventory of your belongings to have at hand in case of a break-in. Mark your property using an engraver or ultra-violet markers and take photographs of precious, one-of-a-kind possessions. In the event of an insurance claim your insurer may ask for photographs of the lost items.

9. Install an alarm or deter thieves with a dog

Add another layer of defence to your home with an alarm system. A barking dog can also provide effective security for your home. Even installing a "Beware of the dog" sign can make thieves pause before targeting your home.

10. Make friends with your neighbours

In close-knit communities people look out for each other. Neighbours can report suspicious activity at your home and help when you're away - and you can return the favour.