EL CAJON (CBS 8) - While you are out searching for holiday gifts, thieves are out looking for perfect targets. But police are on alert.
It has become a kind of holiday tradition at Parkway Plaza mall in El Cajon, as the city's police department opens its special temporary holiday storefront in the mall itself, not only inviting the public in to learn more about what police do, but also providing a larger and more visible police presence here as Christmas shopping -- and the potential for crime -- increases.
"Crime is up, and we're trying to suppress it by having a presence," an officer told CBS News 8.
It's an increase in police power at Parkway Plaza that Sue Pike from Brooklyn, New York took notice of.
"There's actually more (police) here than in Brooklyn," she said.
Of course, there are steps that shoppers can also take to help prevent becoming a victim in the first place, especially in the parking lot of any busy shopping center. That's where the majority of most mall-related crime occurs, according to Consumer Reports.
Experts advise shoppers to park in a well-lit, populated part of the lot, avoiding dark, remote locations. Always remember to lock your car and make sure all windows are completely closed, and hide all valuables from plain sight, including your GPS devices and any electronics that can be stowed away.
"The bad guys have pretty much stayed home so far. Hopefully it will stay that way," the officer said.