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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With lots of holiday spending and shopping, comes crooks trying to cash in. Police have a warning for those out and about, stocking up their cars with gifts.
Thousands are heading out shopping, especially this time of year, but there are some things people might forget.
"I am picking up a little stuff here, a little stuff there," said Shawn Gardner, a holiday shopper. Folks like Gardner say they are interested in finding things like iPhone 5S's for Christmas.
Others like Heather Allgood are intrigued with items like iPads, tablets or Pittsburgh Steelers merchandise. Regardless of what's on your list, cops say you need to pay attention.
"Some may think "Oh, I won't be gone long," but that's just enough time for the individuals in this business who are looking for a crime of opportunity," said LMPD Spokesperson Dwight Mitchell.
Officers say those "crimes of opportunity" -- car break-ins -- are at their peak. Mitchell said the majority of the thefts occurred in LMPD's 6th Division around Jefferson Mall, Shepherdsville Road or the Newburg area.
"It's a high crime time of year. People are looking for easy ways to get quick hustles and stuff," said Gardner.
Mitchell said crooks are swiftly scoping the scenes during the holiday hustle and bustle at places like parking lots, shopping malls, and other places where people are coming out rather quickly. Gardner said he was well aware of the issue.
"People walking by looking through the window and stuff trying to see what they can get," said Gardner.
Mitchell said the suspects took advantage of "quick grab items" such as iPhones, iPads or other small electronics that "are rather expensive and easy for them to pawn." He said they have even had reports of golf clubs being stolen out of people's cars.
Police say some shoppers are unintentionally leaving the door or window wide open. "Around 60 percent of the times the doors were left unlocked," Mitchell said.
"In those particular situations, that's what drives up the numbers for us."
Gardner said he believed some people might be a little too trusting of the people around them in today's society
"I think it should be common sense. Everybody should know to lock your stuff up especially around Christmas time," said Gardner.
"I do make it a habit of opening up the trunk and putting the stuff in the trunk just for safety reasons."
Mitchell said leaving items in plain sight was very tempting for criminals. He said many of the suspects admitted to walking down lines of cars to check if they were unlocked.
"People who are generally out stealing robbing and doing those things, usually they don't want much resistance," said Mitchell.
Mitchell said the path of least resistance is what calls criminals, so stashing your valuables and shopping bags in general is always a good idea. Customers said they also wanted to lock their doors to ensure the least amount of temptation for crooks.
"I try to make sure that my doors are locked even though they get locked and frozen and stuff," said Allgood.
Allgood said she has also placed bags containing small electronics behind her purse. She said anytime she purchased electronics, she would never leave them in the car.
"I also try not to be alone," said Gardner.
The mother of two said she tried to stay aware of her surroundings when shopping because she felt that women and elderly people tended to be the most vulnerable to becoming a victim of theft or crime.
Mitchell said the best advice is to head home as soon as you stock up.