DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - While many people will be heading to the stores and malls to check off their gift lists, thieves may also be looking to steal your holiday cheer.
According to Nationwide Insurance, car break-ins are one of the most common forms of larceny. Which is why, Dubuque County Sheriff, Joe Kennedy, wants people to take extra precautions while shopping.
Kennedy said that one of the most common ways thieves break into cars is by opening unlocked doors. He said that these criminals typically try to be quick and draw as little attention as possible.
"The odds of them forcing a window or breaking a window in crowded mall parking lot, or Target, or Walmart, or something like that, are not very likely," said Kennedy. "Because, again, they don't want to draw attention to themselves. But if you leave your doors unlocked then you're opening yourself up for that."
Kennedy suggest people to hide their gifts in the trunks of their cars or under a blanket. He said that you should never leave valuable items visible.
However, Kennedy warns shoppers to stay alert and remain vigilant for any suspicious activity in parking lots; especially at night.
"Be well aware of what you're doing. Try to get your car unlocked before you get there that way you can hop in it quick and get the doors shut if you think somebody is around," said Kennedy. "And be watching the people around you who may be watching you."
Kennedy suggests parking under street lights or near security cameras, as criminals will typically deter from these areas. He also advises people to pay attention to their surroundings and not get distracted.
Any victims of theft are encouraged to call their local authorities as quickly as possible.