I Team 10: Guarding against package thefts

Posted at: 12/10/2012 5:02 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2012 6:29 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

It's the busiest time of the year for package deliveries. So it's easy to see how boxes left on your doorstep when you're not home can become targets for thieves.

It is expected to be a record-setting year for holiday shipments. UPS alone expects to deliver more than 500 million packages in the month leading up to Christmas. Unfortunately, that also provides thieves more opportunities to steal those special deliveries.

"We've lived here for 30-odd years and never had a problem like this before," said Mel Russell of Rochester.

Thieves walked up on his porch recently and stole packages that had been delivered by UPS.
Russell says he only learned of it, because the delivery driver noticed a car following him. After dropping off the boxes on Russell's porch, the driver says he saw the car stop, watched a man get out, grab the packages and drive away.

"The UPS driver did report the description of the vehicle and the person and gave 911 the license plate number of the vehicle," recounted Russell.

It's the season of giving, and whether it's UPS, Fed Ex, or the U.S. Postal Service, millions of boxes are being delivered every day. A\nd those unattended shipments can be easy pickings for thieves, who only need to walk up to your door when no one's looking. There are all sorts of surveillance videos on the internet that prove just how brazen the criminals can be.

"It's like any crime. It's a crime of opportunity," said U.S. Postal Inspector Landen Hawkins. "I don't think it's any bigger or any smaller this time of the year. I think people just notice it a lot more this time of the year because a lot more people are expecting packages."  

Hawkins says there are a number of things you can do to protect your shipments .... tracking your package is a good place to start by asking for a signature confirmation upon delivery.

"It verifies that someone at the address has signed for that and received it. You can go to the post office and ask for your mail and packages to be held. You can pick it up at the post office," said Hawkins.
UPS also offers a service that gives consumers additional flexibility. You can sign up and get an email or a text the day before your package is delivered, allowing you to reschedule, or have it re-routed to your work or to a relative, or to a UPS store.

Hawkins says another simple way of thwarting the thieves is for everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

"That's one of our best allies, our customers and our mail carriers. Everyone is on guard to see if anybody is taking packages off porches, If mail is not being received by customers, they report it to the local police and they report it to us."

A few other tips: pick up your mail promptly after it's delivered .... don't leave it in the mailbox overnight. Also, if you know you have a package being delivered but won't be home....try to notify a trusted neighbor. And if you're going to be out of town, let the postal service know so you can have them hold your mail.