Police in West Cumbria are warning members of the public to be vigilant of distraction burglars following a number of incidents in the Copeland area.

Two incidents that occurred in Bootle and Millom on Thursday are under investigation. Officers believe that the two incidents are part of wider series of burglaries across West Cumbria where offenders are targeting insecure homes and elderly people.

Detective Sergeant Sam Johnson said: "We are looking at a potential burglary series in operation across West Cumbria, primarily in the Millom and Bootle area. We are finding that offenders are actively targeting insecure properties or using methods of distraction to steal from vulnerable members of the community.

"Patrols are aware of the incidents and working in tandem with the ongoing investigation in order to prevent further incidents.

"There are some steps that people can take to avoid being victim to such a crime. I'd urge everyone to take a moment to consider the home security arrangements. One example is simply locking windows and doors, even when you are at home and by doing so you automatically make it much more difficult for any would-be thief.

"Valuable possessions should also be kept away from sight where possible. Criminals of this nature are looking for a quick opportunity, by leaving valuables near to open windows or doors will entice thieves.

"I'd also ask people to be wary of suspicious activity, especially persons who are knocking on doors and engaging occupants in conversation. Distraction burglars often look to target elderly residents in conversation, sometimes by purporting to offer a service, in order to gain access to a house or to distract a victim from one of their associates.

"I would like to point out that not all cold callers are criminals. Those who are there for legitimate purposes will be willing to show you identification, provide you with contact details of their business and should not pressurise you into trying to get into your home.

"I'd urge communities to look out for one another and to report any suspicious behaviour they see immediately. If you read this please could you ensure that this message is passed on to family and friends, who may not have access to online news or social media, to make them aware and provide our practical advice."

If you see any suspicious activity, please contact police on 101. If you witness a crime in action please dial 999.

Further information and security advice is available here: