ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Police are urging everyone to make sure thieves are not targeting their car while doing last-minute Christmas shopping. That means protecting your Christmas gifts by making sure thieves don't steal them out of your car.
Over the last three days, at least nine people reported their cars had been looted to police, and many more likely did not report thefts. Police say busy shopping center parking lots are one place to make sure your car is clean.
Jordan Waller took time to lock her car while shopping, because she thinks crooks are busy in the store parking lots.
"I am worried about these suspicious shoppers who are out looking for those five finger freebies," he said.
Albany Police say she and everyone else has reason to use caution, because crooks are targeting cars. They call it "entering auto," and they call their effort against it their "Clean Car Campaign." Police made a social media video trying to convince folks not only to lock their car doors, but to keep all valuables out of sight inside.
"We're talking about bagged items. We're talking about most definitely firearms. And any type of electronic equipment. Anything that you don't want someone else to get ahold of. We're asking that you take those items out of your car," Albany Police Corporal Brian Covington said. "Unfortunately we are at that time of year, where we have seen an increase."
We saw a lot of shoppers locking their presents in their trunk, which is good. But Police say you may even want to go one step further.
"Go ahead and take those items home so they can be secured. Because the problem is you don't want anyone to see you removing those items. Putting them inside of your trunk or leaving them in your car," Covington said.
But the thefts are not just being reported in shopping centers. Several vehicles were broken into inside the parking lot of Marsh Landing Apartments last week. Front and driver's-side windows were seen shattered in overnight thefts.
Another suggestion from police: If you put a load of presents in your car, move your car before you go back in another store, to throw off thieves.
Jordan Waller said she is concerned about thieves.
"I think everyone should. I think everyone should be safe this time of the year, because you never want anyone to take advantage of your hard work," Waller said.
Police warn that crooks could be watching you as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, so keep all valuables out of sight in your car, and take them with you when you park.
Cops are heavily patrolling Albany shopping centers. We saw a couple of officers drive slowly through while we were there.