The Charles County Police took the time on Tuesday morning to remind holiday shoppers to take safety precautions when leaving their car unattended.

In a Facebook post, the Sheriff’s Office wrote about noticing purses and shopping bags in cars in a grocery store parking lot. They warned people to “hide those things before you leave your car unattended. There are thieves among us.”

As the holidays approach and more and more people go shopping or order gifts online, stealing is a concern for many shoppers. Thieves may seek gifts that have been left in view in cars or steal deliveries from porches. That was the case this October, when a thief was caught on camera in Columbia, Maryland stealing a Halloween costume. More recently, DC police released a video of a package thief in NE removing a package from a doorway of a home and walking off with it.

Meanwhile, as of November 28, DC police reported that there have been over 9,000 reports of thefts from cars this year. While this is a roughly 14% decrease from last year, it’s important to remain vigilant when shopping for the holiday season.

Like the Charles County Police, DC police also has tips on protecting yourself and your purchases this holiday season. For protecting yourself from auto theft:

  • Keeping your valuables out of sight in your car. You shouldn’t leave electronics, gift bags, or briefcases in plain sight. Either take them with you or store them safely in your trunk.
  • You should also remove your GPS from your window when leaving your car.
  • Lock your car and enable your alarm.
  • Be sure to park in a well-lit area.

Protect yourself while shopping:

  • Don’t carry large sums of money and pay as often as possible with a credit or debit card. You can always cancel or freeze cards if they’re stolen.
  • Be mindful of your purse when carrying a lot of packages. Either carry your purse close to your body to avoid pickpockets or carry your purse within your jacket or pants pocket.
  • Discuss with your children what to do in a store if you’re separated and show them where they can find a security guard or store clerk.

Protect your packages when they’re delivered:

  • Track your packages online so you know when they’ll arrive.
  • Ask a family member or neighbor to pick-up packages if you won’t be home when they arrive.
  • Contact your post office and see if they’ll hold your packages until you can pick them up.
  • Get your packages delivered at work.

DC police also suggests that homeowners shouldn’t leave packaging from expensive gifts in alleyways or in front of their houses. This is to avoid attracting thieves. Break down and dispose of boxes as soon as possible.