ALBANY, N.Y. - Estimates show at least 300 car break-ins occurred from November 2011 through October 2012, according to Colonie Police, and that number is about to spike with the holidays approaching.
As shoppers search busy mall parking lots for their cars this holiday season, patrol officers like Dan Grebert are doing a search of another kind.
"Right there, a BlackBerry in plain view," said Officer Grebert. The more cars Grebert peeked through, the more items he found. Items such as purses, high value sunglasses, and shopping bags out laid in cars in plain sight.
Grebert says these cars are a prime target for break-ins. "It's very easy to smash the window in, grab the item and be on your way."
Adding to the problem, some shoppers make it too easy for thieves by leaving their cars unlocked.
One shopper, Leila Massoud, left a high-value item out in the open, her laptop. "I have a car alarm. I'm not too worried," she said.
Jane McMahon was also at Colonie Center for a quick shopping trip. She says her visits to the mall will be rare during the holiday rush. "I do my shopping online and try to stay away from the stores," she added.
McMahon's plan of action when she is shopping is to use common sense. "I pay attention, hold my purse close to me," she said.
On Grebert's patrol, most shoppers were doing just that and being proactive. "Thankfully doors are locked," Grebert said.
Every car he checked was locked but he says more people need to remember to lock their valuable gifts away in the trunk.