It’s less than two weeks from Christmas and as people shop for presents, the Chattanooga Police Department wants people to stay aware that thieves are still out there looking for their next target.

According to Captain Jerri Sutton with the CPD, the number of theft cases police investigate increase around the Christmas season.

Captain Jerri Sutton said, "You have some individuals who can't afford the things they would like to have and they use this as an opportunity to take away from those that they know do have. So it's a crime of opportunity."

Captain Sutton says that if a person gives a thief an opportunity they will take advantage of it, whether it be in the form of a car theft, porch pirate, or an online scam.

"If you need to make a gift exchange or sell an item, especially those who do so through social media, use our safe zone. That way you minimize the risk that the individuals you are dealing with are individuals you want to deal with,” said Captain Sutton.

The department's safety zone includes cameras that are watched 24/7. It’s located in front of the police headquarters on Amincola Highway.

Captain Sutton also reminds shoppers to never leave items visible in your car. Use a buddy system while shopping and utilize your neighbors when you’re expecting a package to avoid it being stolen.

"We have seen that a lot of companies are offering to put those packages in your car if you have the type of system that allows you to remotely unlock your vehicle. I know FedEx allows you to deliver those packages to the FedEx store so you can pick them up at a time that is convenient for you,” said Captain Sutton.

The Chattanooga Police Department says if any shopper feels uncomfortable it's for a reason and to remain cautious when shopping online.