The Christmas season is a time for giving -- and taking, unfortunately. With shoppers leaving their vehicles stuffed with gifts, entering personal information on retail websites and having packages left on their porches, this is the most lucrative time of year for criminals. Law enforcement officials say the key to avoid being victimized is to make the criminals' job as difficult as possible. With so many goods to be grabbed, setting up a hurdle will likely prompt a thief to move on to the next victim.

One way to deter the grinches is to keep your packages out of sight, says Durham County Sheriff's Detective Christine Reimann. "If you can lock it in a trunk, it's a lot harder for people to get into the trunk than in the main cabin," she says. And before walking to your vehicle, always have your keys in your hand before leaving the store. The extra few minutes you might take searching for your cars could give a criminal enough time to approach you, she says.

There's also an uptick in mail theft this time of year, as thieves check mailboxes for envelopes containing checks and cash. Instead of leaving outgoing mail for the postal carrier to take, Reimann recommends taking it with you when you go shopping and dropping it in an official USPS mailbox.

And be vigilant about retrieving mail and packages as quickly as possible after they arrive, she says. Have you ever been victimized by a thief during the holidays? Do you have any tips to avoid holiday theft?


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