TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up its patrol of major shopping areas as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

Every year, thousands of people fall victim to holiday crimes.

“That’s really scary,” Tampa resident Astrid Sherr said. “They can take all your money away and that’s no good.”

Sherr is extra cautious this time of year, to make sure her and her loved ones stay safe during the holidays.

“I’ve very careful when I use my credit card or debit card,” she said. “I watch that no one is around when I put my PIN number.”

This year, the Hillsborough County Sheriff is increasing operations at shopping centers like the Westfield Citrus Park Mall.

“It’s so everyday holiday shoppers can come out to this mall or any other shopping center can come out with their loved ones and focus on what they should be focused on, the holiday season and the joy and cheer that comes along with giving during the Christmas season,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Tampa resident Nour Lakhlioui said she is glad to hear there will be more Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies around while shopping.

“I feel more secure, more safe with my baby and two kids,” she said.

They will be increasing their presence and focusing in on their vantage points – like their drones and aviation unit.

“You’ll see our eye in the sky camera where we can get a great advantage to take a look at different shopping parking lots or see someone who is suspicious and be able to communicate that with officers on the ground,” Sheriff Chronister said.

He says you’ll also see a large presence of officers on bicycles.

“One place that we want to improve is the use of bicycles,” he said. “Bicycles are quiet; we can sneak up on bad guys.”

“Bicycles can move between cars, go through crowds and move a lot quicker,” Chronister said. “The agility factor is off the charts.”

His parting advice to criminals? Pick another county.

“For that person who thinks they’re going to take advantage and ruin Christmas for someone here in Hillsborough County, you’re probably going to run into one of us, he said. “If you don’t want to spend the holiday in one of our jails, go somewhere else.”

He says his deputies will not be making the holidays easy for criminals and neither should you.

“If you’re shopping at night, park near a well-lit area,” he advised. “When you go shopping, don’t take a bunch of cash with you.”

“When you go make your purchases, make sure you leave them in your car and not where people can see them,” he continued. “People won’t steal what they can’t see.”