NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Shopping safety is not always the first thing on people’s minds when they head to the mall, but your holiday wish list could make you a target.

As the hustle and bustle of shoppers combines with the excitement of the holidays, experts caution against getting too caught up in the festivities.

“Just like you’re thinking about getting that bargain, think about your safety,” security expert Chris Van Buren told CBS2’s Jessica Schneider.

He said that distracted shoppers can be a prime target for criminals.

“Conversation on the phone, not paying attention to what’s going on around you. Be alert, know your surroundings,” he said, “Anyone who wears these earphones, they have no clue as to what’s going on around them.”

Shopping safety is on the minds of many, especially after the carjacking at the Mall at Short Hills last December.

Dustin Friedland, 30, was shot and killed just outside of his Range Rover after he left his wife in the passenger side, all after a night of holiday shopping.

“You have to be as aware as you can be,” Joy Dechiario said.

When you are in the parking lot, don’t be too quick to put your keys away. If you have an alarm function you can hit it if you get in trouble, as a call for help.

“You’re going to hit that alarm button and horns and lights are going to go off,” Van Buren said.

He also cautioned against engaging in conversations with strangers as it could be a set up.

“What time is it? Do you have a light? Can I borrow a cigarette? Get in your car as quickly as you can and lock your door,” he said.

People say they have all sorts of strategies when they go out and spend.

“My purse. I’m always vigilante, I’m always watching,” Cindy Rosario said.

Even if you think you’re in the clear, watch out for your gifts.

“Don’t put them in the front seat, because people can see through the window and see what’s in your car. They’ll smash your windows out and steal what’s in there,” Van Buren explained.

Being aware of these things can make your holidays a bit more merry.

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