Criminals get early jump on holiday shopping season

DES PERES, MO (KTVI) - It is not even November, yet crime connected to holiday shopping is already upon us.
Police are reporting in uptick in car break-ins and other related crimes.

“St. Louis Countywide had a slight uptick recently, not just us,” Des Peres Department of Public Safety Captain Sean Quinn said.

Car breakins are common in communities throughout the area, he said. And many cars are left unlocked, making it even easier for belongings to be stolen.

But holiday shopping adds a new layer of theft – one that is far more costly to the victim.

“People have more packages - bigger packages, and they tend to be less careful,” he said.

Captain Quinn said large shopping bags left in vehicles are immediate targets for criminals.

“The best piece of advice,” he said, “is for people to take their valuables inside, not leave them in plain view.”

Captain Quinn also stressed the importance of drivers being alert to their surroundings. He showed Fox 2 a picture of a family van. He said a driver was robbed outside his van when he began placing shopping bags inside the trunk.

“They start loading this up, and they tend to focus in [the] area here and not what’s going on behind them. That’s usually a pretty good place where if somebody is going to be approached and somebody is going to do a grab – a quick grab or something like that, this would be very opportunistic.”

The Des Peres Department of Public Safety also advises the public to be aware of any strangers who approach for any reason. Con-artists are apt to try various methods to distract victims while stealing their belongings.