GATES — Imagine this: You go to church for your Christmas service, leave to go home, and find you've been hit by thieves.

This is a big concern in one community. That's why officers will be going on "Church Patrol."

Gates Police say many people will stop at a Christmas party either before or after they go to church. That means there will probably be presents in the back seat, in plain view for anyone to see.

That's why police officers in Gates will go on "Church Patrol" tonight. They have a list of every Christmas Eve service in the town. Officers say a couple of police cars will permanently patrol the parking lots of the churches when they're full.

Officer Shawn O'Mara said over the past few years, there have been thefts in those areas on Christmas Eve, and whether you realize it or not, you might be making it easy on the thieves.

"A lot of people that are coming from gatherings (and) dinners will go to mass right after or before. So a lot of people have a lot of gifts in the car out in the open. You open it up to thefts," said  O'Mara. "Because people know that they're vulnerable at that time because people are leaving their Christmas packages in the back seat."

Officers say the best thing to do is either drop your gifts off at home before you go to church, or lock them up in the trunk of your car. If you drive an SUV, police say you should put the gifts in the back.