Tips to stay safe and protect yourself from package thieves this holiday season

It's that time of the year when you may be in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, a whole lot of thieves are too.

"There are a lot of criminals out there and this is prime-time shopping season for them as well," said Metropolitan Protective Services President Derrick Parks, who offered some tips on how to stay safe this holiday season, whether you are having packages delivered to your home or picking them up yourself at the mall.

First, Parks addressed what has become known as porch pirates - the thieves who steal packages right off your front stoop, many of whom have been caught red-handed by doorbell cameras.

"All day, every day," Parks said of the frequency with which those videos seem to surface.

To prevent it from happening, he recommends having packages delivered to a person, not a place. So if you can't be home to receive your package, Parks said to have it delivered to work instead.

"Three things must exist for crime to occur - motive, means and opportunity," he added. "So if you can eliminate one or all three of those things, I think there is no crime."

And that applies to a wide range of crimes that are common around this time of year.

When shopping, Parks advises people to park close to the mall entrance. If that's not possible, park at top level of the garage.

"It's actually a much safer environment because it's brighter. Even if you park at night, it's usually well-lit," Parks said.

He also recommends taking a picture of where you park so you are not left wandering around trying to find your car. Also, Parks said to put your merchandise in your trunk, not your back seat.

"They don't see it. Guess what? There's no motivation to break into this car," he said.