Santa's elves aren't the only ones making a list at Christmas.
Police say thieves to do it, too.
"Criminals use this time of year to shop, too," said Sgt. Ron Felder, Columbia Police Department's crime prevention officer. "They have a shopping list."
As the holiday approaches amidst the second year of a deep recession, retailers and law enforcement report shoplifting is on the rise.
Never miss a local story.
While Midlands police agencies don't keep specific shoplifting statistics, they report the crime has increased in the past year.
The National Retail Federation also reported an increase from 2007 to 2008 across the United States. Last year, shoplifting cost stores $12.7 billion, the federation reported earlier this year.
While the bad economy is to blame for the rise in shoplifting, the retail federation said most items being stolen were not essentials, such as food and basic clothing. Instead, thieves are helping themselves to items such as iPods and purses.
That's because people still want to have luxuries even though money in households is tight, said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
"They still want to enjoy the lifestyle like they had when they had a lot of money," he said.
The problem is compounded by retailers who are forced to scale back employment because of the economic downturn. As a result, fewer employees are working the sales floors and there are fewer eyes watching for thieves, he said.
Police are meeting with retailers to offer tips and strategies.
Those strategies include remembering to put security stamps on products even when there's a rush to get more merchandise on the floor, Felder said. And, police recommend putting less expensive items on display near store exits.
Few retailers are willing to talk about shoplifting trends. They don't want to give criminals any hints on how to beat security.
"There's not a whole lot we can go into," said Liz Krejci, manager at Dutch Square Center. "Security always is at the top of our minds."