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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
Hundreds of thousands of people will flock to area malls this holiday season.
While security guards and surveillance cameras are in place to be extra sets of eyes, shoppers can be their own best protection against thieves.
The busier the shopping, the easier it is for culprits to prey on unsuspecting shoppers.
Master Police Officer John Parker of the Concord Police Department patrols Concord Mills Mall. He says we can't be everywhere at all times. You have to take responsibility for yourself".
Police say first and foremost be aware of your surroundings. Before you head into the mall, lock your car and don't leave valuables inside.
Once in the mall, stay alert. Don't leave bags and purses unattended. Don't put them down and then stroll over to look at an item. Keep your hands on your possessions. If you have to put them down, stay beside your items.
Officer Parker says "when people get out here, all the shopping crazy, they just forget their - I hate to say common sense - but it goes out the window".
Women should make sure their handbags and purses are closed and wallets secure. Police say thieves are looking for opportunities. "They come out here because they know people are going to be busy. They look for you to make these mistakes so they can swoop in, steal your purse and they're out of here", says Officer Parker.
Shoppers with several bags who plan to drop some off in their cars before continuing shopping should put their bags in the trunk.
Don't leave purchases in plain view in cars. Make sure you lock the vehicle. And take a look around to make sure no one followed you out or is watching from a distance.