Tips to keep those holiday packages safe

More and more people are doing their holiday shopping online these days. It's a way to avoid the crowds and have your gifts delivered right to your doorstep. But there is a risk.

It's something that happens every holiday season. You're looking forward to that delivery, but someone else may be as well.

It goes like this, that package is delivered to your doorstep. But it quickly ends up in the hands of a Grinch who steals your Christmas.

UPS alone expects to deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, a 10 percent increase from last year.

The world's largest package delivery company estimates 28 million of those will be delivered this Thursday, December 20, which is projected to be the busiest day of the year.

“Well, with the increase in technology obviously, more and more people are shopping online,” says Lt. Regis Thimons of the St. Joseph County Police Department.

More packages, more deliveries, more opportunities for thieves.

“Sometimes the bad guy will either follow the UPS trucks, any delivery service truck, they could follow it, we have had reports of that happening,” explains Lt. Thimons.

In fact, it happens all over the country.

Usually the crooks will wait for the delivery to be made and make sure the truck has pulled out of sight and then check to make sure no one else is around.

“Then they actually go and approach the front door, see if anyone's home, knock on the door, have a story already prepared why they're there and then, if no one answers the door, they take the package off the front porch,” says Lt. Thimons.

Thimons says one way to prevent getting ripped off is to track your orders so you'll know approximately when it will be delivered.

“They will give you an approximate day, but then it also gives you a tracking number in which you can follow it,” explains Lt. Thimons. “You know if it was brought to Mishawaka that morning that it's probably going to be delivered that day, so try to have someone at your residence or that can swing by and pick it up and get it off the front porch.”

Delivery companies are making it easier and more precise.

For example, FedEx offers instant status updates with FedEx Mobile that sends updated delivery alerts to your smartphone.

“There have been reports that some delivery services just drop and go,” says Lt. Thimons. “As it gets busier, they don't even take time to ring the doorbell to let someone inside the house know that it's been delivered.”

If you are too busy to get away during the day or are worried about the aforementioned scenario, UPS offers a program where you can have your packages delivered to a UPS Store or even held for pickup at a UPS Customer Center.

Finally, Thimons says in this time of giving; give your neighbors the gift of watching their backs.

“Try to be alert,” says Lt. Thimons. “If you're home. Look out the front window every now and then, check your neighbor's front porches and if you see someone strange, absolutely call the police.”

Another way to ensure your packages don't get stolen while you're at work is having those packages delivered to where you work, so long as it doesn't cause problems with your boss.

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