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By David Slettevold - Staff Reporter

You're out shopping, and walk to your vehicle with hands full of bags holding presents, when a thief blind sides you. He knocks a bag out of your hand and in the frenzy, he makes off with the gifts intended for loved ones.

This scenario is becoming more frequent as the holiday shopping season ramps up. Highline Public Safety has offered some tips on how to avoid being a victim of holiday shopping thefts.

One is the cash target technique. Criminals look for people who flash their cash, and they take note of where you put it.

Whether it's in the pocket of a purse or a coat, avoid revealing your money to people other than the cashier.

Another is the parking lot prowl technique. Some people do all their shopping in one outing, they go to multiple stores and put their purchases in the back of their vehicle.

Remember to put your bags in the trunk out of sight so that people can't see what you've bought. You can also try "leaving" in your vehicle and parking in a new location. This makes thieves think you're gone along with their opportunity.

A newer tactic is the object or paper on the windshield technique. This works when a non-suspecting person gets into their car and starts it. When the victim realizes there is something on the window or wiper blade they get out to remove it.

At this point a criminal, through fear or use of force, attempts to steal your car. Avoid this by driving away before removing the object or removing it before you unlock your car.

There's plenty of merchandise floating around this holiday season and plenty of opportunity for thieves to get you in a bah humbug mood.

A method of recovering stolen property is to mark or engrave your laptops, TVs, or other items. This way if police do recover your property they have a way of returning it to you.

Another thing thieves look for is the boxes you put out in the trash after the holiday. They look for which houses have boxes for TVs, gaming consoles or other high value items and thus know exactly who's house to break into. Avoid letting thieves know what you have by cutting up the boxes and putting them inside trash bags or the recycle bin itself.

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