Elk Grove Police Clamp Down on Holiday Shoplifters

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ELK GROVE-

We are now twelve days away from Christmas, thirteen from the start of Kwanzaa and three days away from the start of Hanukkah.

Whatever you celebrate, needless to say, it's a busy time at shopping malls across the country.

Locally, police departments are doing what they can to make sure shoppers don't become the victims of thieves.

"I've caught people breaking windows and attempting burglary," said Officer Rich Black of the Elk Grove Police Department

Black says crimes of opportunity happen at retail stores with holiday gifts inside cars often the target.

"We're looking for anybody kind of out of place maybe just sitting in the parking lot watching," said Officer Black.

That's why Elk Grove police have increased their presence this month, with officers like Black who solely patrols inside shopping center parking lots.

"Looking mainly at the vehicles the front of the store trying to be a visible presence," said Black.

To avoid vehicle break-ins, officers suggest hiding your gifts as best you can.

"Putting those things away, or maybe swinging by the house and dropping them off before continuing to shop," said Black. "If someone did walk by and they saw that, it would just take a few seconds to smash that window and take that item."

"I use my clothes to cover it," said shopper Charlene Chung.

"You just take the bag and put it somewhere underneath the seat," said another shopper Steve Puccinelli. "Or behind something or between the seat where people can't see it."

Police also told FOX40 that even when a bag is not valuable, like say a gym bag, it's still a good idea to hide it.