'Porch pirate' caught on video stealing package; How you can protect yourselfPosted: Updated:
‘Tis the season when more and more packages are being delivered, and thieves are taking advantage of that. Thanks to ever-improving and increasingly affordable surveillance systems, those thieves are regularly caught on camera – and the video is often stunningly clear.
That’s the case in a recent theft from a Moon Valley home.
The homeowner who did not want us to share her name said a woman rang her doorbell and then peered into her windows last Thursday.
“She waited for over a minute at my door until she stole our package,” the homeowner wrote in an email to us. “We have the whole incident on video.”
And she sent that video to us.
Just like the victim described, the video shows the woman looking around for several seconds, apparently waiting for somebody to open the door. The woman then turned around, casually picked up the package and calmly walked away.
Sgt. Jonathan Howard confirmed the incident and said anybody who recognizes the suspect in the video should call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at either 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 1-800-343-TIPS (8477). Spanish speakers may call 480-TESTIGO (837-8446). (Click or tap phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.).
Although security cameras are a great tool to protect your property, they do not always deter thieves, particularly "porch pirates" who take packages left outside.
“Cameras are great for investigation but they seem to capture as many crimes as they might prevent,” he said.
Package theft is a common crime, particularly around the holidays. An unattended box sitting on a doorstep is easy pickings for a porch pirate. Thieves are brazen enough to follow delivery trucks and snatch up packages minutes after they are dropped off.
According to a survey last year by InsuranceQuotes.com (a division of Bankrate Inc.), some 23 million Americans have had their packages stolen from right in front of their homes.
Preventing package theft
In addition to having a security system that keeps an eye on your home, there are some other actions you can take to prevent package theft.
One of the easiest things you can do is make sure a signature is required for delivery. Of course, that means you -- or somebody -- has to be there to sign.
You also can let services know where you would like drivers to leave your deliveries such as in a backyard shed behind the garage.
Some services permit you to redirect deliveries to where you are. This can incur special fees.
Planning is key.
“Most of the major couriers allow for scheduled pickups and some have concierge services now,” Howard said. “People should consider having their packages delivered when they know they will be home or arranging to pick it up at the shipping facility. Arranging with a neighbor to pick up deliveries is another option.”
Many people say they have packages delivered to a work address or a family member's home, where they know somebody will be on hand to accept it.
That is not always an option, though, which is why some people resort to renting secure mailboxes. While that can provide peace of mind, it might not be the most convenient option.
If you receive many packages throughout the year, you might want to consider investing in a home delivery drop box such as the iBin. There are a variety of options on the market available in a wide price range.
But security and peace of mind do not have to be costly.
Neighborhood watches are a good way for residents to keep an eye out for each other. It's nice to know your neighbors and have face-to-face interactions with them, but it's not necessarily required to have a good neighborhood network. Special Facebook groups and the neighborhood social community app Nextdoor, which connects residents and allows them to communicate in real time, are popular ways to rally neighbors and keep everyone up to date on potentially suspicious activity.
Apps like Slice grab tracking numbers from shipping confirmations sent to your email. The apps then track the package and alert you when it is out or delivery and has been delivered.
Tech solutions like Package Guard can also be helpful. The Wi-Fi device not only alerts you via text, email or app notification when a package has been delivered, it also sounds an alarm if a package is removed from the device.
"Cameras only show you it happened, they do nothing to alarm, notify, or make a thief think twice about stealing your packages," reads ThePackageGuard.com. "Package Guard has several mechanisms in place to help stop package theft."
Package Guard, which was created by a Seattle man after a package was stolen from his front porch, can be ordered online and runs about $70.
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