CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Shoppers across the Charlotte region are expected to pack stores Wednesday, December 26, to return Christmas gifts they received from friends and family.

Red Stag Fulfillment, which works with companies on fulfilling online orders, estimated more than 25 percent of customers returned at least one holiday gift last year.

Since the Charlotte region's already seen crimes at several stores and malls, police departments and sheriff's offices want customers to remain on-guard.

"Get your keys out prior to leaving to the store," Gastonia Police Sergeant Scott Norton said. "Those criminals that have maybe, perhaps been watching you or planning this event are looking for your most vulnerable."

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office also suggested people shop with a friend, be wary of approaching strangers and shop during daylight hours or in a well-lit area.