POLICE have warned Bicester households to be on their guard after 69 arsons were reported across the district since the beginning of June.
Householders are advised to keep their wheelie bins secure for as long as possible before putting them out.
Inspector Neville Clayton, of Thames Valley Police, said: “Cherwell police are aware of an increase in the number of arsons across the area.
“These have been mostly bin and hedge fires which, although they appear minor, could easily have got out of hand and spread to adjacent premises with catastrophic consequences.
“A full investigation is always conducted at the scene of any fire in order to identify those responsible.
“Individuals who are arrested and charged with the offence of arson can expect to be treated severely by the courts and anticipate a custodial sentence.”
A total of 69 arsons have been reported since the beginning of June this year, compared to 79 between the start of June and the end of August last year.
Deputy leader of Cherwell District Council, Councillor George Reynolds, said: “If the bin is close to a home a fire can easily spread, endangering the lives of everyone inside.”
Anyone with information on the arsons should contact police on 08458 505505.