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(Lauren Collins, NECN: Manchester, NH) - Police are warning shoppers in Salem, New Hampshire to watch their belongings and be careful. The town is popular for its shopping areas. But a recent spike in thefts is threatening to dampen the holiday spirit. Officers in this southern New Hampshire town are busy this time of year: As the holiday seasons approach we see a surge in shoplifting and theft related crimes. In the last two weeks, Salem police have responded to a number of car breaks in store lots, a dozen felony-level thefts of electronics and other high-ticket items, and eight purse snatchings -- Captain Shawn Patten says those numbers are an increase over the rest of the year, and a slight bump from past holiday seasons. He also says there doesn't seem to be any one store more vulnerable to thieves than another: Stores from Kohl’s to K-mart and the shops inside the mall at Rockingham Park have all been targeted: “I don't think that people who are out there stealing discriminate. They look for the best opportunity and then go for it.” “A lot of crime is really opportunistic. Somebody happens to see something . . . Opportunity there and they may act impulsively for any host of different reasons.” And when they do act . . . They do it quickly . . . Often too quickly for you to stop it: It only takes a few seconds for a purse to get stolen...a woman will out her handbag in the cart, turn away for just a moment, and when she comes back, it's long gone. “What we recommend is you put your wallet inside your jacket pocket with your money and your credit cards that way . . . If you have to bring in your purse and you're the victim of a theft, you still have all your personal items, your social security card, your license and your money.” Police believe that the economy is at least partially to blame for the apparent uptick in thefts. University of New Hampshire sociologist Cesar Rebellon specializes in criminal behavior and says that theory seems plausible, based on the level of crime tracked in healthier years: “Yes, in fact when the economy is doing well, there does seem to be a decrease, in this case, in property crime, in particular.” But he cautions against the assumption that because things are tight this holiday season, property crimes will unavoidably rise. Just the same, Salem police have extra officers, in uniform and undercover., in the stores and lots through Christmas.