Crime Alert: Florence Police urge you not to advertise your purchases to thieves

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Investigators with the Florence Police Department have issued a crime alert.

They say the holiday season is a prime time for opportunity crimes. They have responded to 40 active theft cases in the past 30 days.

"Criminals look for the easiest opportunity to gain merchandise or any type of property they want," said Sgt. Cliff Billingsley. "One of the ways to prevent that is to not let them know you have it."

A few tips, don't leave merchandise in plain view when you're out shopping. Putting it in your trunk can deter thieves. Another simple trick -- lock your car!

"You don't know how many times we have responded to a case and there was no sign of any forced entry, they admitted to leaving their car door or house door unlocked," Billingsley added.

Investigators said the scary part was only three of the 40 victims were able to provide serial numbers or pictures of their items. Those numbers can help to catch the criminals because they link back to your stolen property.

"Without that number it becomes just another object that we can't track back to the victim," he said. "This [serial number] will also lead us to the person who stole the property and we can make an arrest and then it gets them off the street and saves others from being victims."

If your devices don't have serial numbers, mark them with a black light pen. That way you know the markings are there, but the thief does not. Police will be able to find the marks if you let them know they are there.

Another way to avoid becoming a victim of theft, don't leave large, expensive electronic boxes outside of your home. Tear them up and throw the pieces out or put them in your truck and drive them to the nearest dumpster.

"Those boxes are pretty much an invitation to criminals that you have expensive things in your home, they make your home a target."

Investigators say some of the prime areas for vehicle break-ins right now are the Target shopping center, the downtown area and Hermitage Drive between Helton and Rickwood.

If you want to check the crime statistics in your neighborhood, go to CrimeReports.com.  Florence Police will continue to add safety tips on their Facebook page.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 4.55.02 PM

Florence Police Area Crime Map (Source: FPD Facebook)