BURGLARS have targeted up to a dozen homes in one Southampton community in the space of a week.

Student properties have been the main target of the raids which have prompted police to issue a warning to improve security and remain vigilant.

Officers believe criminals have broken into a number of properties in the Portswood area of the city trying to get their hands on new tablet and laptop computers that have been brought back to the city by students after Christmas.

In many cases paving slabs and plant pots have been used in the smash-and-grab style raids where thousands of pounds worth of cash and property have been taken.

Officers say they are keeping an open mind as to whether the 11 break-ins are linked.

In one case the homeowners returned to find two people inside their property.

They told police how they came back to their house on Avenue Road and heard movement upstairs. Assuming it was their housemates they called out a greeting before going into the kitchen.

When they did not recognise the voice they came into the hallway to see a man and a woman walking out of the front door and called the police.

On four occasions burglars have smashed their way into homes through patio doors and windows.

Sheds and garages have also been targeted during the crime spree which has seen hundreds of pounds worth of electrical items and bikes stolen.

Now Hampshire police has issued a warning for residents to be on their guard and tighten up security where needed.

A spokesman said: “In some cases the break-ins have occurred as the result of an insecurity.

We would urge homeowners to ensure that doors and w i n d o w s r e m a i n s closed and locked when you are not at home and think about i n s t a l l i n g anti-burglary devices liked timed light switches if away for a longer period of time.”

He added: “Students may well be coming back from the Christmas break with new tablets, laptops and other expensive electrical equipment.

Our advice is do not make that property easy to steal.

“Make sure your rooms are locked and windows secure when you leave, don’t leave things on view through windows and make sure the property is insured, and security marked in some way.”