Lynchburg, VA - Every year, the Lynchburg police department sees the number of thefts and robberies increase during the holidays. They want to keep you from becoming another statistic.
Outside of the River Ridge Mall, Clarence Justice sees it all the time: Criminals stealing the holiday spirit.
"Just a few weeks ago, there was a fight out here in the middle of the street. Just a bunch of kids running around they were fighting over popcorn," Justice said, holding his Salvation Army bell.
Lynchburg police say Black Friday ushers in more thefts and robberies too.
Just peek around the mall's parking lot with Officer Josh Collins.
"There's jackets, sunglasses, purses," Collins said, pointing to the valuables left in vehicles.
"It's almost like people leave their common sense at home," he added.
Police say parking lots are the most vulnerable places for crime. They suggest you park near well-lit areas and don't leave valuables inside.
Just like you shouldn't drive distracted, experts say you shouldn't shop distracted either. So leave your kids at home, put your cell phones down and stay aware of your surroundings.
Another tip - keep your purses close and cash out of view.
Justice doesn't have a badge, just a bell and no nonsense advice:
"Keep it locked!" he said.