Between the post office, UPS and Fed Ex, more than a billion holiday packages will be delivered by the time Christmas day rolls around.
And because of that, it can be the most wonderful time of year for a certain type of thief. This kind never even has to go inside your home to steal Christmas.
Go on the internet, and you will see ample video examples of holiday thieves police call porch pirates.
“I hate to even have a smile on my face because I don't like it that they even have a cute name because they're low life thieves,” said Lt. Cindy Kilgore, coordinator for Michiana Crime Stoppers.
Our traditional image of pirates stealing treasure on the high seas is replaced by images of land-based marauders taking holiday treasures off our very doorsteps.
“So sometimes what they're doing is they're following the delivery trucks, sometimes they're just driving around and looking for packages on people's front doors,” said Kilgore. “The discouraging thing is it can happen very quickly. If they're following the delivery truck, you can imagine the delivery driver drops the parcels off, drives away and the next thing you know somebody is running up on the front porch and taking the item.”
As this crime grows, police and delivery services are encouraging people to take steps to baffle these land-based buccaneers.
“If you can, schedule your delivery time for a time when you can be home, that's best, and keep an eye out for the truck,” Kilgore said. “If you can't be there, check with your employer to see if they would be willing to let you have your package delivered there. You might want to check with a trusted neighbor or have your package delivered to a friend or relative who you known will be home.”
In recent years, technology has made thwarting these thieves much easier. The major delivery services will send you an email or text alert when a delivery is imminent.
And if you cannot be there to pick it up, have someone you trust do it for you.
“Make sure that as soon as you are advised that the package has been delivered, you get on the phone with a trusted neighbor, somebody that you hopefully have already made a pre-arrangement with, and have them go over and get your package,” said Kilgore. “Also a lot of delivery services will allow you to go on-line and designate a secret place for your delivery.”
And that secret place could be say, a particular bush, gate or fence.
· Increase in burglaries and thefts typical during holiday season
· A "Porch Pirate" is someone who takes packages from your porch or front door area
· With growing popularity of online shopping, several hundred million parcels are delivered at holiday season
· Thieves will sometimes follow delivery trucks to pick target
· Most delivery personnel will attempt to conceal a package
· If a company can prove package was delivered to your home, there may be no recourse
· Good idea to insure valuable items
What Can You Do?
· Some delivery services allow you to go to their website and choose a secret spot to leave packages
· Install a lock box for parcels
· Whenever possible, have the company that's shipping stipulate a signature delivery only
· If possible, schedule delivery time for when you'll be home
· If you're not home, consider leaving a note asking the package to be delivered to a willing neighbor
· Have package delivered to a friend or relative more likely to be home
· Utilize delivery alerts/texts offered by many companies and contact a trusted neighbor
· Pick up the package at the delivery facility
· Ship to your work address
· Increasing popularity and affordability of home surveillance video
· Notify the merchant in the event of a recovery policy
· File a police report