Protect yourself and belongings out Christmas shopping - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Protect yourself and belongings out Christmas shopping

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

With just 12 days to go until Christmas, many will spend the weekend at the mall or stores, buying gifts for loved ones.

While shopping can be a fun way to spend a day, it comes with added danger this time of year.

The holidays are a season of opportunity for thieves.

"I don't think it's any secret we have criminals that will try to prey on folks when they go out shopping," Metro Officer Jose Hernandez said.

On Friday night, FOX5 spotted unlocked cars and shoppers walking alone, fumbling for keys and wrapped up in conversation on their cell phones. Police said all of those scenarios present opportunities for crooks.

Police say you should always shop with someone because there is safety in numbers. If you need to leave items in your vehicle, conceal them in the trunk. Bring only the amount of cash you intend to spend and be mindful about where you park.

"If you were a thief and you were looking to break into someone's car, which car would you pick? The car that's furthest away in the dark or the car that's in front or in the light," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the most important thing is simply to pay attention.

"Being alert is by far the most important thing. Be alert when you leave the parking lot. Make sure no one is following you," he said.

Las Vegas shopper Heath Leier knows all about the danger. She said a thief tried to snatch her purse several years ago, leaving her with bruises and emotional scars.

"I was worried. I was very scared. I was screaming as loud as I could," she said. "It happened to me, it could happen to anybody whether you're tall, short, big or small."

Leier fought to get her purse back, something police don't recommend.

Metro police have increased patrols in busy shopping areas and those known for a great deal of theft.

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