Police warn of thieves while out shopping this season – keep an eye on your personal belongings in your cart

ARAB, Ala. - The Christmas season comes with its fair share of cheer and spirit but unfortunately there are people out there who are ready to take advantage of you during this time of year. Police officers are already seeing people become victims, even while they're out shopping.

During the holidays law enforcement officials investigate all types of theft. This time of year thieves look for any opportunity, even eying your shopping cart.

"We see it a lot, especially during the holidays," Arab Police Assistant Chief Shane Washburn says.

He says a common report during the holidays is stolen purses and wallets -- taken while their unsuspecting owners are out shopping.

"Often what happens is when you're shopping you forget about your purse or your wallet in your buggy, and you'll walk a few steps down and look at an item on a shelf leaving the purse unattended or your wallet, and unfortunately there are people watching and they're waiting for the opportunity," Washburn explains.

Of course, police see this year round, but it happens more often than not during the holidays.

"I think one thing is people are strapped for money," Washburn says, "The other aspect of it is they know that there's going to be a lot of people out there shopping with a  lot of money."

A big thing to remember is that it can happen to you.

"Use precautions. Zip the purse up or close it up. Keep it close by or keep someone by it watching it, making sure no one tampers with it," Washburn says.

Washburn adds luckily, many times surveillance video can help in an investigation, but identifying the thief is usually the hardest part.