Police issue warning as mysterious ‘Christmas gnomes’ appear in people’s gardens

Police have warned of a garden gnome scam that could leave homeowners at risk of burglary.

North Wales Police said it was aware of “Christmas gnomes” being left in people’s front gardens in Flintshire.

They warned the behaviour was sometimes used by thieves as a “calling card” method by thieves and other criminals to identify people’s schedules and time spent at home.

They can then identify how likely a property is to be occupied, allowing them to attempt a break-in.

The police force posted a picture of a grey,  bearded gnome that had been found by a resident of Broughton in their garden.

A spokesman for the Flintshire North branch of the force said: “We are aware of a report of individuals in the Broughton area leaving Christmas gnomes in residential front gardens.

“This type of behaviour is sometimes used as a ‘calling card’ to see if the gnome is collected by the resident.

“If not, the property is likely to be empty and could be an easy target for burglaries.

‘‘We would advise residents to be vigilant and ensure your home is secure.”

Officers say the bearded ornaments are sometimes used as a 'calling card' for criminals

Officers say the bearded ornaments are sometimes used as a ‘calling card’ for criminals – North Wales Police South Flintshire/SWNS

North Wales Police’s website also advises homeowners to keep their properties visible by lowering front garden fences, and by installing CCTV and alarms in their homes.

It comes after it was revealed that police have failed to solve a single burglary in neighbourhoods across nearly half of England and Wales in the past three years.

An analysis of police data from 30,100 neighbourhoods found earlier this year that in 48.2 per cent of them, no break-ins had been solved in the three years ending March 2023.

More than 80 burglaries remained unsolved over the three years in each of the three worst neighbourhoods in Hampshire, South Yorkshire and south-east London.

The findings prompted warnings that burglary has been decriminalised in parts of the country.

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