Following several residential burglaries during the last month in southwest Westport, police are urging residents to pay close attention to safeguard their homes and neighborhoods.

"Because of the holiday season, we'd like people to be more vigilant," said Capt. John Calka. "If they see anything unusual, such as a suspicious car or someone who doesn't belong in their neighborhood, they should give us a call. We'll come out to investigate."

A couple of the recent burglaries took place at homes that were left unlocked, Calka added.

Westport police provided the following burglary-prevention tips:

1. Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened. An open window or door is an open invitation for burglars. Thieves are also quick to spot weak locks that may be easily forced open. Doors should have deadbolt locks with a one inch throw and reinforced strike plate with three inch screws. All windows should have window locks.

2. Secure sliding glass doors. Place a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track and install vertical bolts. These will help prevent burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.

3. Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don't rely on an automatic garage door opener for security.

4. Create the illusion that a home is occupied by using timers on lights, radios and televisions. Making a dwelling appear occupied, even when no one is home, will deter criminals.

5. Keep the perimeter of a home well lighted. Installing low voltage outdoor lighting is a cost-effective way to discourage intruders, as well as highlight a house.

6. Never leave clues that you are away on a trip. Have a trusted neighbor collect mail and newspapers during absences so delivered items do not accumulate. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are home.

7. Keep some shades and blinds up and curtains open to maintain a normal, everyday appearance in a residence.

8. Never leave a message on a telephone answering machine telling people that you are away from home. A message that you will return at a certain time leaves your home vulnerable in the interim.

9. Keep shrubbery trimmed away from entrances and walkways. While large, ornate hedges may be beautiful, they also provide a hiding place for burglars who need only a minute to break in through a window or door.