KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Christmas is a couple weeks away and many of us still have gifts to buy. The shopping rush creates an opportunity for thieves. It’s why police departments see more reported car break-ins this time of year and why the Knoxville Police Department is sharing ways to protect yourself this holiday season.

“They don’t realize, hey, I need to put that in my trunk or I need to put something over that to hide it, or I need to go back by the house and drop some of this off,” said KPD officer John Morgan of holiday shoppers.

Morgan says things like locking your car, closing your windows; not leaving the engine running or the keys inside; parking in secure, well-lit areas; removing valuables or storing them in a trunk/other locked compartment; and activating the car alarm can make a difference.

“Most of our criminals out here are looking for that quick opportunity to grab something,” he said. “It takes a matter of seconds to break a window and grab something.”

Kayla Beycey Bailey is one of the most recent victims.

“My purse was inside,” she said of the theft on Monday. “It was hidden, but I had my work backpack on top. … They stole my purse which had my gun inside it, my medications, and my wallet.”

But, she lost something even more valuable.

“There were letters from my Papa, who has now passed away, that were in there,” Bailey said. “I think that’s what hurt the most. You never know what people are willing to do in these times.

“So just be careful and watch your back.”