ST. LOUIS — If you're going in search of Black Friday deals this week, it's time to get those shopping lists ready. But police say there's one other thing you need to plan for: Your safety.
5 On Your Side's Jenna Barnes met an officer with advice on how to shop smart.
It's the most wonderful time of the year for deals and steals, but Officer Monte Chambers with St. Louis County Police said it can be prime time for something else.
"This holiday season should be a time of great enjoyment," said Chambers. "On the other hand, it's actually an opportunity for crime to become a little more prevalent."
5 On Your Side looked at crime numbers for the four biggest malls in the St. Louis area. Last year, on average at The Galleria, West County Center, South County Center and St. Clair Square crime increased by 70% in the 30 days after Black Friday when compared to the 30 days before Black Friday.
RELATED: Crime data for St. Louis-area malls
We found most of the crime that affects shoppers, like robberies and car break-ins, happened just outside the malls in garages or parking lots.
"A lot of different potential thieves, they're looking for easy targets," Chambers said. "You want to make sure that when you're walking to and from your car, to and from the department store, that you're walking with confidence and that you're nobody to be messed with."
Officer Chambers said there are three easy ways to show off that confidence: ditch the phone, hold your head up high and walk faster than your normal pace.
"Criminals aren't going to mess with you or anything because they feel you're a person with a purpose," said Chambers.
Protecting your cars and what's in them from crooks is also important. Officer Chambers said lock your doors, put your bags in the trunk so nothing's visible from the windows, and think about where you park.
"I would recommend parking closer to other vehicles, especially closest to the door," said Chambers.
He said that's because more cars mean more potential eyes on anything suspicious. If you're really worried about a thief pouncing on the purchases in your car, Officer Chambers said to buy the most expensive thing on your list last to make sure it goes home with you.