As the holidays approach, many people are starting to shop and receive packages. Receiving packages is exciting, but the prevalence of online shopping has caused packages delivered to doorsteps to become prime targets for theft.
Commander Kris Zuniga with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office said while he has not heard of many reports of package thefts in Kings County lately, he knows it has happened in the past.
“People are following trucks and scoping out houses — they’re bold,” Zuniga said. “They don’t care what they get, they just grab it and go.”
Zuniga has offered some tips to prevent delivered packages from being stolen from porches and garages and hopes people take them into consideration.
To ensure safe delivery of your packages and keep them out of the hands of thieves, he said to follow these important security tips:
1. Have packages delivered to where you are, not where you aren't. Some people may think their home is the only place they can have a package delivered, but that is not the case. Zuniga said if it’s OK with an employer, packages can be delivered to an office or place of business. Neighbors who are home during the day are also a good option. You can instruct family and friends to do the same for packages they mail to you throughout the year.
2. Set up alternative delivery or pickup options through local delivery services. Delivery businesses like the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx each offer alternative delivery and pickup options. Let the delivery company know when you will be home.
3. Discourage thieves from targeting your residence with a few strategic home security devices. Zuniga said home surveillance cameras can be effective crime deterrents. Home security cameras should be prominently displayed where potential criminals can see them, yet high enough to prevent them from being tampered with. Outdoor security lighting and home alarm systems can also be effective crime deterrents, he said.
4. Keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles and subjects in your neighborhood. Putting a stop to package theft and residential burglaries is a community effort. Zuniga suggests talking to neighbors and encouraging them to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, like an individual or vehicle following a delivery truck or a stranger removing a package from outside a residence.
The U.S. Postal Service, which delivers more than 15 billion mail pieces during the holiday season, also offered tips on its website:
1. Avoid sending cash by mail. Checks and money orders are safer and may be canceled or reissued in the event of theft.
2. Change the package’s address while it’s in transit. Customers who know they won’t be home when their packages are delivered can have it sent to a new address or to the post office to be held for pickup.
3. Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and you won’t be home to receive it, you can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location.
4. If you’re going out of town, hold your mail at the local post office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the “request hold mail” service. Letters and packages will be held at the local post office until the customers return.
5. Secure the shipment using signature services. Signature services help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.
6. P.O. boxes might also be an answer. Customers concerned about the security of their mail can consider renting a P.O. box at their local post office. The mail remains secure within the post office, accessible only when using the right key or combination code. Many post office lobbies are open 24/7, so customers can retrieve mail on their schedule.
Both law enforcement officials and delivery services suggest reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement agencies.