The crowds will be massive this weekend and through December as shoppers look for those special gifts, but it also can be a time for thieves to strike, leaving you empty-handed.
Tyler police spokesman Don Martin said officers will be out in full force, but he emphasized consumers should be on their guard at all times — while shopping and once they get the gifts home.
“We will have the mobile command unit at Broadway Square Mall and will have extra officers, including bike officers in the area,” he said.
Martin said shoppers need to safeguard their wallets and purses from potential thieves.
“Don't leave purses unattended while shopping. For example, do not leave your purse in a cart while you turn around to look at items, because you could turn back to find it is gone,” he said.
If your purse or wallet is stolen, Martin said to contact police immediately, and also call the credit card company or bank as soon as possible to prevent the thief charging purchases to your account.
Martin said to put all shopping bags and boxes in the trunk out of view or if possible to carry the items home before going into another store to prevent someone breaking into your vehicle.
He also reminded the public it is also against the law to leave a vehicle running unattended, and those found by police could face serious fines.
Martin's best piece of advice was to just be vigilant about your own safety.
“Be aware of your surroundings in parking lots and in stores and be on the lookout for suspicious persons lurking. If you see something suspicious, don't be afraid to call police and report it because a lot of people just won't call us,” he said.
Martin also suggested keeping a closer eye on your online banking to make sure it has not been compromised.
But Martin said being vigilant doesn't end at the shopping mall but should be carried over at home.
“If you are going to be away, make sure lights are left on, and neighbors are aware you are gone. Don't place presents by a window in the house because that could attract thieves,” he said.