(WTVM) - Police are busy this time of year as certain types of crimes like theft and home break-ins increase.
With just a week to go until Christmas, police are reminding you to stay alert as you are out and about shopping to avoid falling victim to thieves.
Like most of us, criminals truly love the holiday season, but not for the same reasons as you and I.
So many of us leave the mall loaded down with bags, sometimes distracted, which could make you a target for thieves who are looking to fill their own holiday shopping lists.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, thefts, burglaries and property crimes greatly increase.
Columbus police say they have ramped up visibility across the city, especially in the high shopping areas, and many of those officers are undercover.
Still, they say it's up to you to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your property.
"This is definitely the busy time of year for everyone, including thieves, and with many stores like the Kmart here on Macon road staying open till midnight everyday till Christmas Eve, police are urging holiday shoppers to be diligent when it comes to safety," said Columbus Police Captain Ronnie Hastings. "Don't just hope you will not be a victim of crime, do something to make sure you minimize the possibility that you will be the victim of a crime."
We also spoke to shoppers, who said they make it a point to be safe.
Here are some other tips:
- Always stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, including strangers that may approach you in the parking lots.
- It’s best to shop during the day, but if you have to shop at night, don't shop alone.
- If possible, avoid carrying a purse, or wallet or large amounts of cash. Try to use credit or debit cards if possible.
- Police also say don't overload yourself with packages. You always want to may sure you have the freedom to move and can easily get in and out of your car.
- When it comes to those packages, make sure they are not out in plain sight. You want them in your trunk or some location that won't be so tempting to thieves.