'Tis the season when motorists inadvertently leave packages in their vehicles that prove too tempting to ignore... and then the local police add their names to a growing list of 'smash-and-grab' victims.

The number of such “smash-and-grab” claims can spike during the holiday season, when shoppers --without thinking-- leave gifts and other valuables in a vehicle for thieving passersby to see-and-swipe.

Sgt. Brad Merritt, of the Frisco Police Department near Dallas, said laptops, purses, wallets, tablets and smartphones are the “top items on a thief’s shopping list.”

“Never leave anything in the car that you can’t afford to lose,” he advises...

Cars become prime targets for “parking lot predators” as the holiday shopping season ramps up, according to Jeff Baird, who owns an Allstate agency in North Texas and urged consumers to keep their guard up “whether we’re nearing the holiday shopping season like today or running everyday errands.”

Comprehensive car insurance covers a stolen vehicle, as well as damage to the vehicle from vandalism and weather-related incidents.

But “in-vehicle theft is not stealing the entire car,” Allstate said, so a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage won’t necessarily protect personal items inside the vehicle.

Allstate said it wants to straighten the issue out for Texans who “assume incorrectly” that comprehensive coverage typically applies to stolen “factory-installed” items.

“Personal property inside or on the car—bikes, cell phones, backpacks—is typically covered by homeowners, renters or condo policies,” Allstate said in a statement. “Apartment dwellers can find themselves totally unprotected if they don’t have renters insurance.”

The insurer also offered the following prevention tips:
?“Lock It Up and Roll ’Em Up”: Consumer safety groups preach a basic lesson that’s forgotten too often: lock up your valuables and roll up your windows. Allstate repeats the advice that the National Insurance Crime Bureau trumpets in many of its theft reports.
?“Look Around”: Leaving a vehicle on a well-lit street or parking spot, in crowded area or within view of security cameras will decrease the chance a thief targets that vehicle.
?“Hide It First or Take It Along”: Make sure the thief doesn’t eye “where you stow your stuff” by stowing it before parking, according to Allstate.
Or, better yet... you can take that stuff along with you to ensure that thief can’t “smash-and-grab” it.