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Crime fighters are warning South Holland residents not to buy bargains from burglars – or you could get more than you bargained for.

“Handlers” face a seven year prison term, the same stretch as the thieves who sell stolen goods.

Spalding police sergeant Stuart Hurst said fortunately there are few burglaries in South Holland and South Kesteven, but anyone who buys stolen items simply because they are struggling to pay for Christmas are actually helping to ruin someone else’s Christmas.

He said: “By buying something cheap for your kids at Christmas, you are potentially doing some other kid out of their Christmas present.”

Lincolnshire Police and Crimestoppers have joined forces in a hard-hitting campaign to warn residents about stiff prison sentences if they are convicted of handling stolen goods.

As well as seven years for handling, there’s a separate offence of possessing criminal property and that carries 14 years.

Sgt Hurst is warning householders to beat the burglars by stepping up home security, making sure burglar alarms are set, windows and doors are locked and by timing radios and lights to come on at dusk.