BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — As Christmas approaches, more cars and homes become hot spots for burglaries. While for many, Christmas is a time of giving, for criminals, it’s the perfect time to steal.

“There’s always an increase during the holiday season because those suspects who are out there, those criminals know that people are out there buying presents for their families,” stated Baton Rouge Police Department Public Information Officer Sargeant L’Jean McKneely.

Porch Research noted in 2021, over eight percent of annual burglaries in the U.S. took place in December.

“You don’t want to become a victim, right?” asked McKneely. “You don’t want to have that aspect of having to buy additional gifts or if you spent your last in buying gifts.”

He said there are ways to protect your belongings.

“When you’re out shopping, be aware of where you park your car, when you walk into your car, not being overloaded with bags in your hands, and scan the parking lot.”

Also, while you’re store hopping, avoid leaving your gifts in your car in plain sight.

“Secure those packages inside the car while you were out there doing your holiday shopping. Also, make sure you don’t have an extra key inside your car. Make sure your door’s locked. That’s a big thing,” said McKneely.

For your home, he said to stay alert.

“We recommend that you have items that are being delivered to your home, being delivered while you’re there, or have them delivered to your job,” McKneely says.

He said trouble can strike even after Christmas.

“Don’t advertise the gifts that you might have big boxes in front of your homes like the big TVs, the computers, those are items that people are going after,” he said.

Law enforcement leaders said installing cameras can help with security.

If you fall victim to theft, they say to report it at your local police station.