VICTORIA -- A Victoria family left the downtown core this week without their holiday presents and likely without the holiday spirit.

Police say on Dec. 9, thieves broke into a vehicle in the 1100-block of View Street and made off with $1,000 worth of gifts. 

Investigators say a family shopping in the downtown core had just dropped off the packages in their car when the break-in occurred. 

Police say while they have increased patrols to curb gift thefts, shoppers must remember to not leave anything of value in a vehicle. 

The day before the theft occurred, Victoria police launched “Project Holiday Connect.” 

The initiative sees officers increase their patrols in downtown Victoria and Esquimalt as holiday shopping increases. 

“Our local businesses are essential to our community and this year has been challenging for them,” said Victoria police Chief Del Manak. 

“We want to do what we can to support our business community over the holiday season,” Manak said. “VicPD officers will therefore be downtown, in our malls, our shopping centres and our parkades, and they’ll be highly visible.” 

The program runs until Dec. 18.