Now that the holidays are here, most of us will be spending a fair amount of time in our vehicles. In addition to normal activities, such as work and running errands, we will be busy visiting friends and family and, of course, shopping.

Unfortunately, criminals are busier too. The holidays are essentially hunting season for them. They know that this season brings a greater chance of finding items worth stealing in cars, trucks and SUVs. It also means that more vehicles are left in public parking places at malls and other shopping venues, leaving them vulnerable to potential theft. It is simply good sense to take some simple precautions.

Don’t Advertise!

Every year, thousands of people end up filling out theft reports because they left piles of gifts sitting on the seats of vehicles. To a thief, this simply says, “take me!” Whether you have a car or SUV, leave nothing in the passenger compartment. Instead, do everything possible to keep gifts (and anything else that might tempt a thief) out of sight.

If you have a traditional sedan or coupe, always put items in the trunk. Now, because I usually have a lot of gun stuff in my trunk, it leaves little room for shopping. So, before heading out to the stores, I remove the things I won’t need.

If you have an SUV, put everything in the rear compartment. Many SUVs have privacy shades that hide the compartment. If yours does not, an old bed sheet or blanket does a nice job, especially in a dark color that makes it difficult to see through the rear window.

Pickup trucks, depending on how they’re configured, can be more difficult. A lockable bed cover is a great solution. Out of sight is out of mind.

Car-Jackers and Kidnappers Don’t Take Holidays

While it’s a good idea to take steps to protect our stuff, it pays to remember that all the normal threats are still out there. In fact, many criminals will take advantage of men and women who are so caught up in the hustle and bustle that their situational awareness suffers.

This is especially important when walking to your vehicle, with both hands holding shopping bags, for example. Even if you are carrying your firearm, this makes you vulnerable to a quick grab and run, a carjacking or worse, an abduction. Pay attention. Be ready to access your gun.

Play It Safe

Always park in a well-lit area, ideally near the entrance of the store or mall you plan on visiting. Obviously, when the parking area is filled with bargain-hunting shoppers, this is not always possible.

I sometimes shop during less busy times. This has pros and a cons. When the lot is full, there are more people around, which is a deterrent to criminals. But during slow shopping times, I can park closer to the entrances. It’s your call.

Another option is to consider shopping with a friend. If you can’t and you have concerns for any reason, don’t let pride keep you from asking someone in the store to escort you to your car. They’re nearly always willing to do so.

Just remember that criminals don’t take holidays. So, when it comes to protecting ourselves, neither should we.

Stay alert. Stay safe!

About John Caile

John Caile, contributing writer for USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine, has more than 35 years of experience in concealed carry training and practical handgun shooting skills. As communications director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, John was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. Certified through the NRA as an instructor of Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Home Firearm Safety and Personal Protection in the Home, John continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida. He has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is frequently published in the press.