As the busy holiday shopping season approaches, Vancouver Police are advising drivers to be extra vigilant in preventing theft from their vehicles.

The number of smash-and-grab auto thefts has increased compared to last year, but overall crime stats show they have been in decline over the past five to 10 years.

This year there have been 7,498 reported thefts from vehicles in Vancouver, 600 more thefts compared to the same period in 2011.

“[Thieves are] going to walk around and if they see you leave something behind, they’ll take it. There are organized people but they look for more tourist areas. The majority of our thefts are opportunist, seeking to make some money for drugs,” said Det. Phil Ens. 

During the holiday season, police make an extra effort to make sure parking lots are safer, but they also have tips for the public.

Police are advising drivers to lock items in the trunk, not to leave any possessions visible and to avoid making multiple trips to the car to drop off new items.

Disabling the trunk latch so it cannot be opened from inside the car will also help prevent thefts, police said. and report suspicious people to police.

Police also urge anyone who notices any suspicious activity to call authorities.

For a map of the most popular spots for thefts from cars in Vancouver click here.