Law enforcement reminds shoppers to stay safe this holiday season

The holiday season is a busy time for shoppers, but also for criminals.

Local law enforcement is reminding shoppers to practice safe habits while shopping this season.

People should be alert and aware of their surrounding and not leave personal items or shopping bags in plain sight.

"When I say be aware and be aware of your surroundings that doesn't mean texting as you're walking to your car because you aren't aware of your surroundings and you don't know what's going on around you," said Brian Thomas, Potter County Sheriff's Office.

The Potter County Sheriff's Office puts up a tower in the parking lot of the Westgate Mall this time every year.

The tower is used to deter criminal activity and according to Sheriff Thomas, it's an effective tactic.

"This year we took it out a week early because of the auto burglaries and as soon as we took it out there, the auto burglaries just kind of went to a stand still," Thomas said.

The Amarillo Police Department also said it's not enough to simply put shopping bags out of sight if you are returning into the store.

"Get in your car, drive it to another parking space in that parking lot," said Jerry Neufeld, APD. He said people could be watching shoppers load their purchased items in the car and break in once the shoppers have returned into the store.

Another thing APD is warning people about is leaving the car running to warm it up in the mornings.

"All you've done is just warm up for that thief and they appreciate it but your car is going to get stolen," said Neufeld.

He said 83 percent of the cars that were stolen last year had the keys somewhere inside of the car.

"We can be out there but we can't be everywhere, so we rely heavily on citizens to help us out and use a little common sense out there," Thomas said.