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Be aware during the holidays Ernesto Lopez | Sat, Dec 04 2010 12:00 PM

With the holidays in full swing, people are out shopping for gifts and, at times, the last thing in their minds is safety.

Sgt. Mike Harlan with the National City Police Department said there is more theft of all kinds during the holidays because people forget the smallest details.

"When they go shopping and are short on time, people let things slip," Harlan said. "These are the times to take the extra minute or two to put safety first."

Lt. Phil Collum with the Chula Vista Police Department said theft increases around the holidays because there is an increase of shoppers and that represents an increase in targets. He added that burglars in many cases are not out to steal shopping bags from vehicles, they are out to take items they can easily sell, like electronics and designer items.

Harlan offered the following advice to keep in mind while out shopping.

Automobile safety

* Park in areas that are well lit

* Don't leave valuables in plain view

* Lock your doors

Personal safety

* Be aware of your surroundings

* Ask for an escort to your vehicle if you feel unsafe

* Never shop alone

"Don't be overly paranoid but just be vigilant," he said.

Collum said it's important for people to be aware of their surroundings while out shopping because it could help people feel safer.

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