POLICE have issued a stark warning to Sandhurst residents to be vigilant after a spate of burglaries where homes have been targeted while the occupants were inside.

Fifteen homes in Owlsmoor and College Town have been burgled since February with a wide range of property stolen and, in several cases, the intruders entered through unlocked doors.

The most recent incident happened on Monday, April 14, when a home in Owlsmoor was targeted.

The spate of burglaries reached its peak when four homes were targeted within the space of a week-and-a-half at the beginning of April.

PC Emma Tompkins, area beat officer for College Town and Owlsmoor, said: "The burglaries are generally occurring when people are still at home and have left a door or window unlocked. A range of items have been stolen even though there is often someone present in the house.

"There has definitely been an increase recently so residents need to be aware."

DC Richard Webb, at the burglary unit based in Maidenhead, added: "This type of crime is quite unusual. Residents have been burgled while they were asleep or even sitting watching television in the next room, usually between 11pm and midnight.

"Items stolen include purses, car keys, and electrical equipment such as DVD players, Playstations and any small stuff they can get away with in a bag."

PC John Oblein, crime reduction officer at Bracknell, said: "The sad fact is that unlocked doors are allowing the burglar to walk in. Police advice is based on common sense - we say it is always better to lock any front or back door wherever necessary.

"In these cases, a moment's prevention is much better than the heartbreak of knowing that a burglar got into your home, with a little bit of help from you."

If you have any concerns about your home security, contact PC John Oblein on (01344) 823483.

Anyone with information should contact the burglary unit via the helpdesk on (01344) 823456 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police have refused to provide details of the individual burglaries in Sandhurst.