A warning for shoppers: While you’re looking for the perfect gift, thieves are looking for the perfect victim

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A warning for shoppers this holiday season: While you're looking for the perfect gift, officials say thieves are looking for the perfect victim.

The Thanksgiving holiday gave way to a big shopping weekend, with shoppers taking advantage of the deals on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Retailers are offering sales right up until Christmas Day, and law enforcement officials want to make sure your holiday season isn't spoiled by thieves.

The average American was expected to spend more than $700 in November, according to Gallup, and Black Friday deals meant a lot of high-ticket items were going out the door this weekend.

Waukesha County Sheriff's officials say shopping this time of the year is extra precarious because there are so many more distractions. Crooks are looking for people caught up in the lights, sounds and big crowds.

"They are going to go after whomever they think is vulnerable at the time. Who's paying attention Who looks to be an easy target? Who doesn't know where they are going?" Jennifer Wallschlager with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department said.

Wallschlager advises shoppers try not to shop alone, and put the cell phone away when you're walking to the car.

"Know who is around you and what's going on around you. People that are looking to steal stuff are looking for peope that are not paying attention to what they are doing so it's quick and easy and they can run off. Leave with only the things you need. If you can purchase items with credit cards or debit cards, do that. Try not to carry a whole lot of cash," Wallschlager said.

Another tip: When you're going from store-to-store, don't leave shopping bags in your car. Rather, put your items in the trunk.

Law enforcement officials are making extra rounds through shopping districts this holiday season in an effort to keep shoppers safe.