You’re a sneaky one, Mr. Grinch

‘Porch Pirates’ looking for easy steal of your parcels during the holidays

BY JOHN HUNTER
Posted 12/6/18

A “porch pirate” is one name – others include backyard bandits and lawn looters – given to the brand of thieves who take advantage of unattended packages delivered to unoccupied homes around the Christmas season.

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You’re a sneaky one, Mr. Grinch

‘Porch Pirates’ looking for easy steal of your parcels during the holidays

Posted

The mythical Christmas “Grinch” isn’t always a green, furry, foul-tempered, pot-bellied creature.

Sometimes he takes the form of a porch pirate.

A “porch pirate” is one name – others include backyard bandits and lawn looters – given to the brand of thieves who take advantage of unattended packages delivered to unoccupied homes around the Christmas season.

SafeWise, a Utah-based consumer reports company that tests, reviews, and compares home safety products, reported that nearly 26 million Americans had packages stolen during the holidays last year.

Nearly one in five homeowners had a package stolen from a porch, with an average loss of $140, according to SafeWise.

The company analyzed 2017 FBI larceny data, and then compared that information to Google Trends data for areas with the highest number of searches for “missing package” or “stolen package.”

SafeWise found that the Raleigh-Durham metro area was the fifth most vulnerable metro area in the United States to package theft during the holiday season. That doesn’t necessarily translate to Chatham County, where law enforcement officials say that porch bandits have been mostly quiet.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had many reports of package theft,” Pittsboro Police Chief Percy Crutchfield said.

“We haven’t seen a lot of these cases in Siler City,” said Sgt. Tyler Bridges of the Siler City Police Department. “You see a lot more of that in the subdivisions and bigger cities.”

Still, police recommend taking precautions during the holiday season to prevent becoming a victim to package thieves.

“Use your tracking information to know when your package is going to be delivered and try to be home when it is,” Crutchfield said.

He also recommends follow the tracking information to retrieve packages as quickly as possible when notified of a delivery.

With some companies, customers can request delivery for a specific time frame. The U.S. Postal Service utilizes an informed delivery system which allows you to manage what time and where you would like your packages to be delivered.

“You can go on the websites of FedEx or UPS and put special instructions on where you’d like them to deliver the package,” Bridges. “You can get them to take it to another door that’s more secure or more discreet if you want.”

If you can, Crutchfield suggests having packages shipped to your work address or another trusted location where someone is there to ensure safe delivery.

“Requiring a signature for delivery will also ensure someone is home when the package is delivered,” he said.

“Have the post office hold your mail for the next three or four days if you’re going to be gone” Bridges added.

It also helps to be aware of activities in your neighborhood.

“If you see a package delivery service in your neighborhood, be aware of any suspicious persons or vehicles that may be following or watching them,” Crutchfield said. “Please report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency. If you see your neighbors have received a package be alert to potentially suspicious persons on their property.”

If you do fall victim to front porch thieves and your packages are taken, file a police report.

“Call the police and be sure to have all of the tracking information and receipts,” Bridges said.

“Notify the shipping company and company you placed the order with,” Crutchfield said.

Over the last few years, video doorbells have become an important tool in the fight against front porch thieves. Companies like Ring, Nest, Greet, RemoBell and iseeBell that utilize “smart” doorbell cameras are part of a $530 million industry, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics. More than 3.4 million video doorbells are expected to be sold this year, according to Strategy Analytics.

“We have installed quite a few of those doorbell cameras over the last few years,” Darryl Beverly, owner of Ranger Security Systems, a Snow Camp-based security company said.
The video doorbell devices allow owners to watch and record live video feeds from phone or computer apps.

“It allows people to be home without being home,” Beverly said. “They can keep an eye on their front porch, their carport or garage, or even inside, while they’re miles away.”

“Hopefully everyone will have a safe and happy Christmas Holiday,” Crutchfield said. “Please don’t hesitate to call the police department if you have any questions or concerns.”

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