BURLINGTON, N.C. -- As you go out and buy presents this holiday season, keep in mind that thieves are watching. The moment you step outside that store with your new purchase, you are a potential victim.
Police suggest putting the shopping bags in the trunk so they're out of sight. When you get them home, they say hide them somewhere hard to find. If you can get access to the serial numbers on those big-ticket items without opening them up, police urge you to write it down so you have a record of it.
If you already own a TV or laptop, see if it can be password-protected. Police say you should take advantage of that whenever you can so if your laptop, for example, ends up in the wrong hands, thieves can't get access to your personal information.
Also, learn about your electronics. "Writing your serial numbers down, knowing your make and model and having that document typed up and hidden somewhere in your house certainly is a good idea," said Burlington Police Sgt. Sam Epps. That way if your property turns up, police will be able to track it back to you.
Sgt. Epps says protecting your stuff may be as simple as becoming friends with your neighbors and keeping an eye on each other's property.
Thieves are also looking to steal from you online. Experts say if you're shopping online, only visit websites you're familiar with and don't open any unknown links. They may direct you to a fake website.
Also, don't buy using a public WI-FI connection. Thieves can hack into the connection and intercept your personal information.
WFMY News 2