Warning: Thieves like Christmas, too

While residents get ready to shop till they drop to fill their Christmas wish lists, local law enforcement officials say criminals will be making their own lists this holiday season, and shoppers will be the prime targets.Sgt. Tony Everett, public information officer with the Big Spring Police Department, said thieves will be out and about this holiday season, just waiting to fill their stockings with ill-gotten gains.“That’s what they look for,” said Everett. “You’re going around and looking for Christmas presents, and they are walking around looking for things to steal. That’s how they have Christmas. Whether it’s your presents or your money, you can kind of look at it as if the thieves are out there shopping. That’s what they do for a living. They steal.”While these naughty-listed criminals may seem impossible to stop, Everett said there are some things that can be done to keep you and your vehicle from being a target.“Don’t put your packages and presents in the back seat of your car without covering them up,” he said. “The best way to discourage criminals is to keep them out of sight and out of mind by putting them in the trunk. If you have to put them in the seat though, be sure to cover them up or obscure them in some way.“If you put them in the trunk, it makes it a real pain for the thieves to get to them, and they don’t necessarily want to be out there working on your lock in a situation where they can be seen. From time to time we try to patrol the parking lots of the mall and some of the stores looking for that sort of thing.”Most importantly, Everett said, be alert.“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” he stressed. “If you’ll sit up at the front doors of Wal-Mart or the mall, you’ll see people walking up and down the parking lots just looking in cars. After a minute or two you can tell they’re not looking for their car or headed for their car. What they’re doing is scoping out the inside of your vehicle to see if you have any packages or purses or anything lying loose.“We also suggest people keep their doors locked whenever they go inside a store, and make sure you take your keys with you. If someone gets into your car to steal a radio or wallet and they find the keys, you’re probably going to lose your car. We generally recover the cars that get stolen around here, but a lot of time they’re not in any kind of condition to be driven.”Everett said it may seem downright unholiday-like to be so suspicious this Christmas, but it’s much safer to err on the side of suspicion than to be caught unaware.“A lot of people will walk outside and in between cars and really not be aware of what’s going on around them,” said Everett. “You need to pay attention to whether or not people are there or they seem to be watching you. I would rather have someone be suspicious of me if I’m standing out in the parking lot than to not even notice me.“Also for the ladies with purses, we suggest that they don’t just hold them by the strap and just leave them hanging. That makes them really easy to take. If they have straps on them we suggest you keep them over your shoulder so you can keep one arm over them and keep them secure. Also be sure that you don’t leave money that’s in your purse visible.”