The Christmas season is in full swing and the Calgary Police Service, along with the Alberta Motor Association, is again launching their campaign reminding residents to keep their shopping bags and gifts out of sight.

The aim of Operation Christmas Presence is to instruct the public on how much of a target gifts are if they’re left in plain view inside vehicles as well as how easily thieves can get inside your vehicle when it is parked in a lot.

"At this time of year, we do see an increase in the number of car prowlings in an around the shopping malls and busier areas," said Constable Tom Page, CPS Community Resources Officer. "Quite often, what we see is people leaving valuables in plain sight."

According to police, vehicle prowlings are often a crime of opportunity and it doesn't take much time for a thief to gain access to a vehicle.

"Most people can get into a vehicle in less than five seconds and they take what they want in five seconds," explains Cst. Page.

The CPS will be increasing patrols in shopping centres and talking with members of the public about the dangers posed by leaving their purchases and goods in sight.

Placards will also be distributed, free of charge, for residents to display inside their vehicles to inform would-be thieves that there is nothing of value inside.

The placards are available for pick up at any CPS district office or AMA centre.

Police say that between January 1 and November 30 of this year, there have been 7,637 reports of thefts from vehicles under $5,000 and 112 of more than $5,000.

The figure is a slight drop from the previous year, where police had 7,931 reports of thefts under $5,000 and 142 of more than $5,000.