Miami-Dade Police's Grinch Busters protect shoppers and their purchases.
Dadeland Mall was packed Friday with shoppers in search of holiday bargains.
Lurking among them, police say, are Grinches who want to steal their Christmas.
"They dedicate their holiday season to capitalizing on other people's mistakes" says Miami-Dade Police officer Rigo Machado. He is part of Operation Grinch Busters, going on now at all the major malls in Miami-Dade County.
"We saturate the parking lots with as many cops as possible - undercover cops, undercover cars and we have marked units also" said Machado, as he drove around the parking lot at Dadeland pointing out people who are easy targets.
Grinches love shoppers who load their trunks with gifts then go back inside to buy some more.
"They'll break in, take all your stuff and you'll come back at the end of the days and realize you shopped for somebody else" said Machado.
Marta Matos was very cautious today. " We were having lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and decided not to put our bags in the car out of fear that somebody could break in."
Police worry about women who don't secure their purses and solo shoppers -- especially distracted ones. "If you're on your cell phone and you're walking out by yourself, now whoever is watching you knows you're not paying attention to what's around you," warned Machado. "You make yourself an easier target."
He also recommends always having your keys in hand while walking to your car at the end of the your shopping day. Putting your bags down while you search for keys and load your trunk is not a good idea.
Find a friend or relative to go shopping with you. If that's not possible, you might want to splurge on valet parking especially at night. "Safety in numbers," says Machado.