WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Over the weekend, Lauren Deal and her family returned from their hike at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds to an unpleasant surprise. 

Their car windows were smashed and their glove compartments were empty.

"Not only did they bust the window, they used something like a crow bar and actually bent the metal of the window frame," said Deal. "How much can you sell a stolen phone for? Or stolen chargers?"

And around this time of year, Deal's family isn't the only one. 

"The park ranger told us, 'Oh this happens every year in December,'" said Deal. 

Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner says vehicle break-ins usually increase around the holidays.

"Tis the season for break ins -- and cars are not immune to it," said Wagner. "The #1 rule, of course, lock your car."

Sometimes that doesn't stop people from smashing a window, like Deal's.

"They did close to $5,000 of damage to our car," said Deal. 

And if you're out doing holiday shopping?

Wagner says before locking your car, hide your purchases in the trunk and take true valuables with you inside the stores. 

If you become a victim, always call police and make a report. 

"Entering auto" is a felony that can land someone in jail for a year.

"This is a great time of year. You're buying gifts for everyone else and you want to make sure those get home safely, and make sure people aren't taking what you already have," said Wagner.

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