Essex Police are advising licensed firearms holders to be vigilant over security to avoid being targeted by thieves.

A number of gun owners' homes across the county were burgled in 2012, including four in the Uttlesford area last February.

Licensing officers have now urged holders of firearms and shotgun licences to ensure that: General householder security is of a high standard.

All guns are locked away in British Standard gun cabinets that are securely fitted to solid walls out of sight of casual observers.

Cabinet keys are never left on easy-to-find hooks near the cabinets or in drawers.

Cabinet keys are kept with you at all times and a spare set should be hidden somewhere in the house.

Weapons are never left unattended in vehicles.

Senior Firearms Enquiry Officer John Hopes said: "We had a small number of burglaries last year where firearms were taken, including the four on the Cambridgeshire border this time last year.

"We are issuing this reminder to all shotgun and firearms certificate holders to be absolutely vigilant with general household security and also with the security of their firearms. Even people with air weapons should ensure that pistols or rifles are locked away or stored securely, especially if there are young people under the age of 18 in the house.”