Tis the season for car thefts: keep your car safe

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Tis the season for plenty of gift buying and crowded parking lots, but with it comes grinches looking to take those gifts away. Know More about keeping your car and personal property safe this holiday season.

If it's just at your house, why would you need to lock up your car?

"You don't think someone has the nerve," Fruita resident Brittany Rogers said. "We heard some kids walking by, and I heard someone say, 'Maybe it's got money in it.'"

It's a lesson Rogers had to learn the hard way: a purse taken right off the floorboards of her car.

"They stole my prescription pills,” she said.

It's not an uncommon theft, especially this time of year. With holiday shopping in high gear, full parking lots and cars piled high with gifts are easy targets.

"Winter season, we get a spike in car thefts statewide," Grand Junction police sergeant Stan Ancell said.

Police say 80 percent of thefts from autos are due to unlocked doors.

"[Thieves will] try door handles until they find one that's open, they go in it, and then they go to the next one. If it's locked, they move on," Ancell said.

Another easy target? Those cars that are left running. Police say the majority of the time, running cars are unlocked. Even though some cars can start automatically and stay running, police say puffing is still illegal, and you could get ticketed.

When she shops, Grand Junction resident Cindy Clifton doesn't think twice about leaving stuff in the bed of her truck.

"I think for the most part, people are good. It's that small percentage of them you have to worry about," she said.

Still, authorities say it's best to take precautions and give car thieves a reason to leave yours alone.

"Keep your presents and your valuables hidden, trunk, back end, glove box, wherever it might be," Ancell said.

And don’t forget the most important thing. Lock your car doors, even if you’re parking in a familiar place like your neighborhood.

The Western Colorado Auto Theft Taskforce was formed in 2010. Its members include the Colorado State Patrol, Fruita and Grand Junction Police Departments, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s office, all working together to reduce auto thefts in Mesa County.

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