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Protect yourself from porch pirates: Longmont Public Safety shares tips on keeping holiday packages out of hands of thieves

Package theft is a crime of opportunity that police say can be prevented.
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Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The holiday season is here and the coronavirus pandemic is causing more people to shop online. That means more packages delivered to doorsteps and, unfortunately, more opportunities for those packages to be stolen. 

“A staggering 11 million homeowners had a package stolen in the last year,” Parcel Pending stated in a blog post citing August Home and a study produced by research firm Edelman Intelligence. From January to Nov. 15, 39 packages were reported stolen from the doorsteps of Longmont residents. A number Longmont Police Sgt. Matt Cage expects to increase through the holidays. 

“It definitely increases this time of year because (package theft) is a crime of opportunity,” Cage said. “People are out there every day looking for packages to steal. It is sort of the perfect storm right now. You have COVID, causing people to order more online, and you have the holidays, so not only are you buying and getting stuff delivered, but also people are sending stuff to you. You may not know stuff is coming.”

Driving Longmont streets, one is bound to see a delivery vehicle of some sort. Cage said there have even been reports of people following vehicles, stealing the packages as soon as they are delivered. 

So how do you ensure you get your packages? Longmont Public Safety and Amazon have these suggestions:

  • Check your delivery window and have someone home when a package is scheduled to arrive. Amazon offers a two- to four-hour delivery window and an array of digital notifications for when your package is delivered, an Amazon spokesperson said via email.
  • Set delivery options to require a signature. “If it is something you can’t lose, make sure you get a signature for it,” Cage said. 
  • Get to know your neighbors. Cage suggests having your neighbors pick up a package that is delivered while you are away.
  • Leave a note for drivers to leave packages out of view from the street. Cage suggested describing a spot to the driver, for example behind the patio railing.
  • Send the package to a drop off site. Such sites are located within local stores across the country. Packages can be retrieved from lockers or from staff behind a counter.
  • Place a hold on the package. This option allows customers to contact delivery services to ask that packages be held at the facility for in-person pick up. 

Longmont Public Safety also suggests installing surveillance cameras at your home to help officers catch thieves. Police have had success identifying suspects from home video surveillance, Cage said. 

“Don’t be covert about it. Make sure it is obviously a camera and make sure it is in an obvious location. People will think twice if there is a big camera pointed at them,” he said. 

If you do have a package stolen, a report can be filed online

“Suspects don’t normally steal just one package. So the little information that you have coupled with information supplied by another victim, often links all these crimes together for suspect identification and prosecution,” according to a Longmont Fire, Police, and Community Health and Resilience Facebook post.