A REFORMED burglar who has spent 18 years of his life behind bars has joined forces with the police.

Martin Olive - once a prolific offender - will help officers to give residents advice on how to avoid being the victim of burglary.

The 46-year-old said: "When I was in an area, I used to walk around for two or three weeks before I did anything.

“People leave keys hanging out the front door when they come back from the pub and people generally leave their doors unlocked. Somebody like me might just pop over the fence and try doors just to see if they are open.

“Don’t leave your keys too close to your letterbox, put thick net curtains up and install and use security lights and alarm systems. Not everyone uses them and some people don’t even bother to switch them on.”

Detective Sergeant Mark White, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Martin has voluntarily given his account of what he used to look for when he committed his crimes, which will hopefully make people think twice about their home security and prevent burglars from targeting their home.

“As well as following Martin’s tips, I suggest people remove items including spades, ladders, loose bricks and anything else which offenders can use to break into your home. We are experiencing a number of crimes at the moment in which offenders use this method of entry, particularly in Southbourne and in East Dorset.”

Martin is part of the Dorset Police Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme which is a multi-agency approach to provide early intervention and ongoing support and guidance to help deter people from reoffending.

The IOM team is made up of police, the probation service, prison services and drug, alcohol, health and housing partners, who work together to identify and manage prolific offenders who commit thefts, burglary and public order offences and otherwise cause harm to our communities.

DS White said: “Martin has been actively engaging with the IOM team for several months.

“The IOM programme is beneficial for the individual concerned as well as the community, as Martin’s case has shown.

“We’d like to thank Martin for sharing his story for the benefit of others. He is clearly making the extra effort to lead a normal life and we consider him to be an IOM success story.

“We’re really pleased that Martin has turned around for the better and he is looking ahead to a positive future.”

Martin said: “I don’t want my son to be embarrassed for who I was then.

"I work now – I’m fully employed. I take a wage home, pay my rent and pay my bills. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t like someone to come into my home and take things that I work for and live for.

“I’ve hurt so many people in my life, even though I don’t personally know them.

“If I could make right my wrongs, I would very happily do so. I think I’m doing the right thing - I think everything’s going the right way.”