JACKSONVILLE — Area authorities are urging shoppers to have a vigilant, safe and crime-free Christmas shopping season.
To do otherwise would be to invite all those grinches, thieves, robbers and other horrible holiday malcontents to descend on distracted shoppers and careless homeowners.
"They're stealing presents bought by someone else's hard-earned money," said Jacksonville Police Department Det. Javier Guerra. "It's very hard to catch them if no one sees and tells us anything we can act on."
It' s important to be secure at all times. But if shoppers must leave gifts in their vehicles, authorities ask they find a way to store those gifts certificates, computers, DVDs, cash, MP3 players and jewelry safely.
While in public, shoppers are advised to keep their eyes on their gifts and goods at all times.
"It's important to be more wary in general," Det. Guerra said.
The Better Business Bureau has a series of tips on how to store gifts in the car – again, if one must absolutely do so:
• Cover the shopping bags and lock the doors.
• Take special care to obscure valuable electronic devices such as cell phones.
• Close all car windows and roof windows and keep the car locked.
• Do not leave receipts in shopping bags or in vehicles. Carry them, secured, on your person.
• Also, check insurance policy and be aware of that the policy provides.
Det. Guerra said stealing Christmas presents from multiple unlocked vehicles or – even more audaciously – from active shoppers has become a regular yuletide hazard.
Authorities say it is easier to prevent gifts from being stolen than it is to recover them or replace them.
Consumers who drive to shopping malls in open pickup trucks are asked by authorities to not leave packages or boxes or anything in the unsecured backs of their vehicles.