Amarillo, TX - With the holiday season coming up shoppers should be cautious of thieves.
Shopping for the holiday season will soon begin and shoppers can expect to see an increase in theft. Thieves target people shopping at malls, staying at hotels, dinning at restaurants, and unloading their cars.
The most common theft that occurs during this time of year is auto burglaries. Police said thieves break into cars with visible shopping bags, spare change, and unlocked doors.
In 2014, there were 204 auto burglaries in Amarillo from Black Friday to December 31st.
With Black Friday coming up the Amarillo Police Department will increase the amount of officers they have on patrol. Corporal Jerry Neufeld, said beginning Friday their holiday patrol presence will be sporadic and random to ensure a safer shopping environment.
Shopping centers, such as Westgate Mall increase their patrol as well.
Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas, said they lend Westgate Mall a tower which allows mall officers and security to sit above the parking lot to discourage auto burglaries. The tower has blacked out windows so visitors cannot tell if anyone is inside. The mall has been using this tactic for six years and has seen positive results.
Steve Talkington, Commander of the Panhandle Auto Theft and Burglary Unit, said since the tower has been placed at Westgate less thefts have been reported near that shopping center.
Crime Prevention Coordinator for the Panhandle Auto Burglary and Theft Unit, Shimika Campbell, said these thefts can be avoided.
"They (shoppers) need to be aware of their surroundings," Campbell said. "When you come out of the mall or out of a store look around and be aware of your surroundings before you lock your stuff up in your trunk."