Norfolk, Va. - It's the season of giving, shopping and spending money.
Unfortunately, for criminals, that also means the season of lots of opportunities.
"With large crowds come folks that are there for the wrong reason, as we know," says Jim Wofford, General Manager of the MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk.
That reason is why Norfolk Police tell NewsChannel 3 that they are stepping up their holiday patrols.
At the MacArthur Center, Wofford says shoppers will see security both inside the mall and out in the parking garages.
However, both police and mall officials say shopper safety starts with the shoppers themselves.
Norfolk Police Department Public Information Officer Daniel Hudson recommends that shoppers leave big, flashy purses at home.
"Bring your cash, but don't bring a lot of cash, have your credit cards and keep those in your front pockets," says Officer Hudson. "Make sure your hands are free don't have anything in your hands."
Additionally, the quick trip from inside the mall to the parking lot, according to Wofford and Hudson, is when shoppers need to be aware.
The first step is to not carry too many bags.
"Go to the car and place them in your trunk then go back and complete your shopping," says Wofford.
When you do leave items in your car, Officer Hudson says it is important to hide them completely out of sight.
Overall, he says, the best thing people can do is not let the holiday craze distract them.
"The biggest thing I want people to be aware of is to be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts while shopping."