CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Local police officers are urging holiday shoppers to protect themselves from real life grinches.
Police in Cary said they are increasing patrols to help stop car break-ins and thefts, but shoppers should also make sure they don't make themselves easy targets.
Data shows there have been nearly 300 larcenies and vehicle thefts in just three weeks. That means criminals have been stealing items from someone almost 13 times every day.
Captain Steve Wilkins with the Cary Police Department said shoppers who leave items out in the open, inside vehicles, is his least favorite holiday tradition. "Larceny from auto is a crime of opportunity. If people see you put things in your car that looks valuable, the more you can do to reduce that opportunity for them, the less chance you'll have to deal with that," Wilkins said.
After walking through Cary's Crossroad Plaza Shopping Center, purses, backpacks, gym bags, headphones, and other items could be seen in plain sight. "Maybe they're only in there for a few minutes, I'm just going to run in and run out, but you and I had the opportunity to look in that car and see that handbag. If we wanted that handbag, we could knock that window out and grab it and be gone," said Wilkins.
The best advice is to keep larger items like shopping bags, purses and computers in the trunk if you don't want to carry them with you. Smaller items like phones, headphones, and chargers should be placed inside the glovebox or center console.
Wilkins also reminds drivers to avoid leaving receipts, bills or other items with personally identifiable information in the car. He said thieves can use those items to commit identity theft.