Anyone spotting a festive gnome in their garden would likely be confused as Christmas is still more than three months away.
However in one Welsh village the decorations are being used for a more sinister purpose.
North Wales Police has issued a warning to anyone who finds a Christmas gnome in their garden – and released pictures of what the decorations could look like.
The issue has been reported in Broughton, a large village in Flintshire close to the border with England.
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.’
The force has also shared its top five tips for homeowners to keep their property secure and reduce the likelihood of burglary.
- If you’re off on holiday and wish to post anything on social media, make sure your posts aren’t public and that they’re only seen by your friends
- Leave lights and a radio on a timer to make the property appear occupied
- Get a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property or join a Neighbourhood or resident Watch Scheme
- Consider asking your neighbours to close curtains after dark and to park on your drive
- Remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries
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