Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – While the Christmas season is meant to be a time of togetherness and cheer, there are crimes that can and will be committed.

In the holiday season, Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard has some tips for staying safe.

He says packages left on porches or in unlocked cars tend to disappear.

He says it just takes a few seconds to lose something to a thief…that was meant to go under your Christmas tree.

Be aware and be cognizant of what’s going on. Be careful when you’re shopping. Don’t leave things in plain view. If you go shopping and you go in the store to buy a bunch of stuff, lock up your trunk or cover it up so nobody sees it. If they walk by, they can see things and they can do a quick what we call smash-and-grab. So that can happen very quickly.

Sheriff Tom Howard, Ohio County

He says don’t leave your purse in plain view, even in a locked vehicle.

And while shopping, don’t let your purse sit in your shopping cart or hang loosely from your shoulder, easily accessible.

He also urges everyone to check on relatives and neighbors, especially the elderly, at this time of year.

The sheriff says there are a lot of crimes of opportunity in this season.