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Hickory Police are asking folks to pay attention to their surroundings and take a few precautions as they scramble to find those last minute holiday gifts.
"They need to be prudent," said Major Clyde Deal. The biggest issue right now, said Deal, is the growing problem of car break-ins.
In many cases the car owners have made themselves a target, said Deal. In the parking lot of a shopping center Thursday morning Deal pointed out several vehicles where purses, c-d cases, even bags of gifts were left where anyone walking by could see them. "It makes it too easy for the thieves," he said.
To make matters worse, many of the cars were left unlocked.
In the past six months there have been almost 300 car break-ins in the city of Hickory with more than 230 of them happening to cars left unlocked. Many of the break-ins occurred in driveways or apartment complex parking lots. Solving cases like that are extremely difficult say police.
During the holiday season thieves target shopping center parking lots because they know there are items to be taken, said police.
Patrols have been beefed up and a what is called a "Skywatch Tower" is moved from parking lot to parking lot. It provides police officers with a sheltered perch above the parking lot where they can watch the cars and video take the goings on.
"Even so, police can't be everywhere," said Deal. He is urging shoppers to keep valuables out of view and lock their cars whether on the road to the mall or in the driveway of their home.