Protecting yourself against holiday crimes

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – While you're out searching the stores for that perfect last minute gift, thieves are looking for the perfect target.

With a lot of people out doing last minute shopping, police warn that many people are looking for easy scores. They want you to be aware of your surroundings, because being in a busy area makes it easier for someone to cover up a crime.

"I feel safer here, because I don't think people will do that, will steal during Christmas, especially in a crowded mall," expresses Fatima Karalova, a holiday shopper.

However, police warn that crowded shopping areas are exactly where thieves are looking for an easy target.

"I'm trying not to think about it, I want to think positive and don't want to worry about thieves and stuff. It's Christmas time, and that's a beautiful time," says Ms. Karalova.

While you are excited about shopping, in a hurry, or distracted, thieves will be watching.

"A lot of things happen: you've got your wallet, your purse, kids screaming. You're in a hurry. And you get sidetracked, that's when people see you as a target and say 'let's go,'" says Sgt. Robert Kegler, a spokesperson for the Horry County Police Department.

Police want you aware so you and your gifts make it home safe.

"You want to avoid dark parking lots, and shop in pairs if you can," suggests Sgt. Kegler.

Police suggest you avoid dark parking lots, carry your purse close to your shoulder, and keep your valuables out of sight.

"I know there's a category of people who will use holiday shopping for their own benefit," says Alina Gordilova, another holiday shopper.

Keep your purchases in your trunk, or bring them home in between stores.

"It's very easy to smash a window and not get a lot of attention because of how busy it is," explains Sgt. Kegler.

While you can't control when the mailman comes, police recommend you ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for any packages left at your doorstep. That way your gift doesn't end up under someone else's tree.

"After you open your boxes, don't' bring it to the curb, now people are seeing exactly what you got," says Sgt. Kegler

Nearly 25 percent of larcenies in the country happen in your car, but almost 75 percent of burglaries nation-wide take place in your home. So, once you get your gifts under the tree, try not to leave the boxes they came in out at the curb. Those boxes will show thieves exactly what you have inside for them to steal.

"It's so much time and money and energy put into it, I would hate to see my gifts that I spent that on taken from me," says Ms. Gordilova.

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