MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Black Friday sales brought out holiday shoppers in full force, but along with the vast number of shoppers, burglars are also out hoping to steal your latest purchase.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of year for shoppers as they wait for all of the hottest bargains. As you continue to fill bag after bag with purchases and load them into your car, the temptation for thieves is obvious.

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The Miami-Dade Police Department has a special program called the “Grinchbusters” that looks to help keep shoppers safe. Police say purse snatchings, pick-pocketing, distraction thefts, and car break-ins are all crimes to pay attention to this time of year.

“We’re driving around and we see people in the parking lot who are sitting and waiting, or they are driving around looking for someone walking to the car to drop something off and go back,” said Miami-Dade Police Officer Elton Mathis. “Don’t make yourself a victim by walking to the car, dropping something off, and go back into the mall. Get what you gotta get, go home, and enjoy the holidays,”

Shopper Jackie Ochoa was out early and filling bag after bag on Friday.

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“Christmas is coming and my daughter’s getting married next week, so it’s last minute shopping,” Ochoa said.

Still, Ochoa had a way to deal with potential thieves; she carried all of her bags through the mall.

“I think that’s a good idea; to keep it with us,” Ochoa said.

Shoppers looking to make sure they have a happy holiday season by remembering several key steps as they move from store to store in December.

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The Grinchbusters have these suggestions to avoid being a target:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. People who are aware are less likely to become victims.
  • Carry your purse over your shoulder and close to your body. Do not keep wallets or money in back pockets or in a backpack that can be easily opened.
  • Keep a list of the contents of your wallet, including credit card numbers, in a secure place. In the event these items are stolen, this will facilitate the reporting process.
  • Never leave your purse, wallet or packages unattended.
  • Beware of pick-pockets, especially in crowded areas.
  • Carry only the amount of cash or credit cards that you need.
  • Avoid storing any purchased items inside your vehicle.
  • Park your vehicle in a well lit area. If your vehicle is parked in a dark area, request for security to escort you to your vehicle when you are done shopping.
  • As you walk towards your vehicle, have your car keys in hand. Avoid fumbling through your purse while in the parking lot.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked and the windows are closed before you walk away from it.
  • If you encounter vehicle trouble, such as a flat tire while shopping, request assistance from security or return to the information counter in the shopping center.
  • When using the ATM, make sure it is not in a secluded location and is well lit. Go directly to your vehicle and avoid counting your cash while at the ATM.
  • Avoid carrying information regarding personal identification numbers (PIN) or other personal access numbers.
  • Avoid carrying your social security card, passport, birth certificate, etc.