YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As shoppers flock to area malls and plazas to find holiday gifts, local law enforcement is reminding us to avoid becoming victims. For starters, always pay attention to your surroundings.

“When you are leaving a store to go to your car, make sure you have your keys ready to use,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

Greene suggests even going so far as to check the area around you and even underneath your car.

“I know that’s a little extreme, but in today’s day and age, you really have to be careful,” he said.

Other tips include stashing shopping bags out of sight in your trunk as well as avoiding the need to carry large amounts of cash. Also, limit purchases to using only one or two credit cards.

“Try not to use multiple credit cards so you can pay attention to that billing,” Greene said. “Make sure nobody has stolen your PIN number or your identity.”

While managers of local shopping malls don’t generally don’t talk about their own security measures, Greene said law enforcement will usually step up its presence as crowds grow this time of year.

Greene says the adage of “see something, say something” applies to shopping, too.

“We get calls all the time to check out suspicious people, suspicious situations that just don’t seem right, so there is nothing wrong with that,” he said.