Safety tips to make sure grinches don’t steal your holiday gifts


People carry retail shopping bags during Black Friday events on November 25, 2016 in New York City. The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Holiday shopping season is in full swing with Black Friday and Cyber Monday quickly approaching. Police warn this season is also big for criminals because while you’re doing the shopping, crooks are looking to put a damper on it.

“Everybody’s looking for a great deal on the holiday season, but there’s also people out there who are looking to get things for free and those are the criminals,” said Sergeant John Perrine with Indiana State Police. “They’re looking to steal your packages, your purchases right out from your car.”

Indiana State Police gave us some tips to keep you and your family safe.

Stay vigilant

State police say criminals are sometimes lurking in plain sight, just waiting for someone to not be careful.

“Some of the methods that these thieves are using is they’ll sit in their car in a parking lot and they’ll wait for the right opportunity, the right car, the person to get out of their car,” said Perrine. “They’ll see that they put their purse in the back or some electronics in the back, and they’ll wait until you walk away from your car.”

Perrine recommends when you get out of your car look around and see if anything looks suspicious or out of place.

Leave your valuables at home

Do your best to leave your own electronics like laptops or iPads at home if you’re going shopping. State police say leaving them in your car while you go into the stores isn’t the best option.

“Even something so simple as a phone charger – people will break into your car and steal,” said Perrine.

Which led him to the biggest safety tip…

Make sure your car doors are locked

“Everybody gets in a hurry and forgets to lock their doors on their car,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things that we see is there are people that will just walk around parking lots checking for open doors.”

Perrine says once they’re inside your car they’ll take whatever they can.

“They’ll steal anything they can from the change in your center console to phone chargers to any electronics, clothes, blankets, they’ll just steal anything they can,” said Perrine.

Watch out for porch pirates

Since a lot of people do their holiday shopping online, police say watch out for people who are out to steal your packages.

“They don’t even care what it is, they’ll just take it,” said Perrine.

He had some tips to make sure your packages don’t get into the wrong hands.

“Coordinate maybe with your neighbors or somebody who’s going to be home if you’re going to have a package delivered for them to pick it up and store it until you get home later,” he said. “Or provide a good hiding spot for that delivery person so that those packages aren’t just out in the open.”

Another option available for some is choosing a pick-up location for your packages. Sometimes there are options you can choose to pick-up packages at the airport, in-store or even pick to send them to your place of work if that’s allowed. That way criminals don’t even get the opportunity to steal your packages.

Don’t advertise your holiday gifts

After the holidays when all the gifts are open, police say they know people are anxious to get all the boxes and wrapping paper out of the house.

“But wait until your trash day to set all your big-ticket items out,” said Perrine. “You don’t want to set your brand-new TV boxes out and advertise essentially to those criminals that there’s some brand-new electronics in this house. So, wait until trash day to set that stuff outside.”

All-in-all, police say stay vigilant this holiday season and report any suspicious activity to police.

“Theft is often a crime of opportunity and these criminals are looking for an easy opportunity to steal something,” he said. “Let’s not make it easy on them.”

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