GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Car thieves are on the prowl this time of year, preying on unsuspecting holiday shoppers. Edy Sanchez of Glendale, recently had his car broken into in his gated community.

"Yes, I get upset because I work really hard for my stuff, and for somebody else to take it away from me, I don't think it's fair," said Sanchez. Vehicle crime is a serious problem across the Valley and it may get worse.

[WATCH: How car thieves are targeting you this holiday season]

Year after year, the number of car break-ins and auto thefts increases around the holidays. James McGuffin is the executive director of the Arizona Auto Theft Authority. He said that one of the reasons they see a spike in incidents is because drivers aren't taking enough precautions.

Just locking your vehicle's door, not forgetting the keys inside, and not leaving valuables in plain sight can dramatically reduce the chances of becoming a victim, according to McGuffin. "The first target is what's inside the vehicle that can be stolen easily," said McGuffin. "If they happen to come across a key fob in there, or actual key itself, then at that point, the vehicle often gets stolen."

To encourage Arizonans to protect their vehicles and what's in it, the Arizona Auto Theft Authority just launched a new holiday campaign called "Lock it or Lose it." Several billboards have been placed around the Valley and across the state, reminding motorists to take some simple steps to avoid becoming a victim.

"Vehicle thieves are looking for opportunities to steal the contents of a vehicle, or the vehicle itself," said McGuffin. "This time of year, there are so many vehicles and so much activity [that] things can go unnoticed."

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 


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