Arlington police say the holiday shopping season is a busy season for break-ins.
The city has a lot of car break-ins in December, Officer Kimberly Fretwell said.
"People leave holiday packages in their vehicles, really quickly going in one store and out the other, leaving their stuff there," she said. "That's stuff to avoid."
Police have increased the number of officers on patrol for the holidays, in addition to adding citizen patrol units and watch towers in shopping center parking lots.
"The Parks mall, Lincoln Square, The Highlands -- those are our big locations we have here in Arlington, and criminal suspects do target those areas," Fretwell said.
Kathy Purnell, who shops at The Highlands, said she doesn't leave anything out in her vehicle. She said she is also cautious of where she parks her car.
"I take a look around to see what's available in the parking lot," she said. "I try to find a space that's not crowded."
Police said shoppers should take steps to protect themselves.
"We discourage people from leaving one store, going to their vehicle [and] putting those items in their trunk, because you never know who's watching," Fretwell said.
In the world of crime, a quick getaway is ideal, which is what makes the smash-and-grab break-ins so hard to solve.
"It really is hard, because it's so quick," Fretwell said. "However, we do sometimes get some good surveillance on these, or people who witness these crimes are able to call us in time. But it is very hard to catch."