HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The holiday shopping season is upon us, and local law enforcement are increasing their presence to keep shoppers safe.

Whether you are out and about or browsing online for those special holiday purchases, officer Brian Hale with Hoover PD tells CBS42 there are several safety issues shoppers should be aware of.

Malls and various stores are often packed to the max with eager shoppers during the holidays, but according to Officer Hale, the more bags you come out with, the more vulnerable you seem to criminals looking to steal.

“We want folks to park in high visibility, well-lit areas,” said Officer Hale. “Don’t leave packages in plain view in your vehicle. If you can place them in your trunk.”

To help avoid these incidents, Officer Hale says they increase their presence at retail places like the Riverchase Galleria throughout the holiday season- an effort some shoppers really appreciate.

“Sometimes, like having other people in a store, like if it’s a busy store, that sometimes makes me feel safer,” said Camden Smith, a local shopper.

“It’s very comfortable and it puts you kind of at ease knowing that they’re their just to watch out for you and take care of you,” said Stephanie Morgan, who was out shopping with her family.

Hale says Facebook marketplace exchanges are also popular, but can lead to dangerous encounters and robbery.

“That’s why we just want folks to be aware that this is happening throughout the country just given that the boom of social media and the marketplace, and to really and truly, you know, if they do nothing else try not to go alone,” said Officer Hale.

Hoover PD provides three internet purchase exchange locations throughout the city to ensure safer transactions for buyers and sellers.

• City Hall, 100 Municipal Lane. Upper parking lot

• Fire Station 7, 100 Inverness Parkway (Inverness area)

• Fire Station 10, 3537 Market Street (Ross Bridge area)

“It’s always good that if you’re meeting up with somebody that you don’t know, having the extra safety is always great,” said local shopper, David Lavallee.

Hoover PD says regardless of how you get your holiday shopping done, it’s important to remember that there’s safety in numbers, and if you ever feel uncomfortable when shopping alone never hesitate to ask an officer to walk you back to the car.