Columbia, SC (WLTX) - With Christmas less than two weeks away a lot of you are hitting the stores buying last minute gifts but while you are shopping burglars are watching your cars.
During the holiday season Columbia Police officials say they see a 40% increase in car break-ins.
"They are looking for those quick easy targets," said Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago.
In the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, some shoppers leave important items out in the open; giving thieves a green light to break in.
"As they are going to the different stores they are putting things into their cars thinking that it might be safe but when it is very obvious that someone can look into your car and see those valuables it becomes an opportunity for these criminals and that is why we are seeing this spike right now."
We went to a busy parking lot with Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago and we found a number of people leaving valuable items in their cars.
Santiago says when shopping make sure that you place the items that you buy in your trunk so that it will not be visible.
Also, even if you take your credit card and leave your purse in the car, it should be locked in the trunk as well.
"When you look at these high dollar items, like cell phone chargers or GPS items you will find that the most common item stolen is really loose change."
Joyce Dennis was out shopping today and she says she always makes sure her items are not visible.
"One thing I always do is carry what I need. I take a wallet purse and stick it in my pocket instead of carry a big pocket book and try not to leave anything visible in my car."
Santiago says the chances of having your car broken into are drastically lower when you don't have items lying around.
"We don't see a car broken into where someone just rummages through stuff, they are looking for something that they can easily break the window, bend over and get out."