Police: spike in thieves stealing Christmas gifts

Retail stores are becoming crowded with holiday shoppers looking for last-minute bargains, but another kind of shopper is lurking in the parking lots.

Police in Lancaster said they're seeing more cases where gifts and packages are stolen from cars while their owners shop.

“Given the time of year, a lot of people do their shopping in multiple places where they may buy gifts, leave them in a vehicle, go to another place to buy gifts,” said Sgt. Bill Hickey. “While those gifts are in the vehicle, or valuables, they can be a target for theft.”

Just because your car has security system does not mean it is safe.

“It doesn't take very long to smash a window, reach in, grab something and go,” said Hickey. “It can take a matter of 15, 20 seconds.”

So what is one to do with all those boxes and bags?

“Don't leave them in your car. If you have to, hide them or secure them, whether it be in a glove box, in the trunk,” Hickey said. “The thieves who are out there breaking into cars, they're window shopping the same way you are. They're going out, looking for cars that are easy opportunities.”

If you are on a shopping spree and have no choice but to keep your gifts in your car, make sure the doors are locked. Even if you hit lock on the clicker, that does not necessarily mean your car is locked. Hickey said you should pull on the handle to double-check.

“They're looking for opportunities and not every car has that for them, so they're going from vehicle to vehicle looking for those opportunities to steal,” he said. “To have those gifts taken and to try and replace all that, that's not easy. So don't make yourself an easy target. Just follow those tips and help prevent that.”

Hickey said those who shop at night should park in well-lit, highly-traveled areas.

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