Simple safety steps can stop businesses and homes being easy targets for arsonists during the Easter holidays.
The tips for householders from Cleveland Fire Brigade include not leaving your wheelie bins and rubbish out before collection day and calling your local council to pick up furniture and other items from spring clear-outs.
Businesses are urged to ensure skips and waste bins have locks and are kept in a secure place away from buildings.
Last year saw a big reduction in deliberate fires compared to Easter 2015. There were 101 incidents in 2016, a 61% drop on the previous year (256).
Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “Let’s make it as difficult as possible for those who are thinking of behaving totally irresponsibly and causing serious damage.
“We are reminding everyone to be sensible and to put bins out only on the morning of collection and bring them back in as quickly as possible. Avoid leaving any rubbish or unwanted household items lying around outside your property.
“Fires involving rubbish and bins can easily spread to your home, putting you at risk. Don’t let it happen to you.
“We are working closely with the police and action will be taken against anyone deliberately starting a fire.”
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Downes, from Cleveland Police, said: “Offences of arson will not be tolerated. Arsonists take risks that could leave someone seriously injured or potentially kill someone. Anyone who commits such offences will feel the full force of the law.”
If anyone has any information about arson or anti-social behaviour in their area, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101.