PACKAGE THEFT IS at an all-time high in the United States. Between a global pandemic and now the kickoff to the holiday season (marked by enthusiastic social media users as Nov. 1), 1.7 million packages are stolen or lost each day in America according to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private, research university in New York.
Even despite the highly popular Ring doorbells and similar smart security systems that have replaced the traditional “ding-dongs” of yesteryear, package thieves have now transformed from highly illusive, unseen figures to blurred forms courtesy of a smart security screenshot. It can be easy to let your smart security system give you the false sense crime avoidance, but at Crime Stoppers of Savannah-Chatham County, we know all too well that cameras are not always the deterrent that we hope them to be.
“Package thefts are about to accelerate,” said Matt Wilhoite, police officer for the Georgia Ports Authority, former investigator at the Rincon Police Department and dedicated Crime Stoppers board member.
According to Wilhoite, most homeowners now have doorbell cameras, which he concedes are great, but still, have just encouraged criminals to work around the newly placed obstacle.
“Most suspects are aware of the cameras and they just mask up,” he explained.
While officers encourage homeowners to spend a little extra money for cameras that can see their road or at least their mailboxes or sidewalks to add an extra bit of security that adds the image of a possible getaway car in addition to the suspect, what can you do to avoid becoming victim to package thievery altogether? I polled some trusted, local officers and here are the top two pieces of advice.
If you can’t be home on the day your package is to be delivered, have your package delivered to your work or to a trusted friend or relative. You can also have your package held at your local post office.
While the point of ordering online is to generally avoid the store altogether, the ship-to-store option at checkout can also make sure your package arrives securely. With most store implementing curbside pickup as a result of COVID-19, you might not even have to go inside.
As a well-established online shopper that orders items weekly from Amazon, I know that there are a few more tricks of the trade. For example, while you can’t always ask your carrier to leave your package somewhere secure, you can decorate your porch or stoop in a way that makes it easier for your carrier to hide packages. You can also leave notes on your door (that are not visible from the road) that ask your carrier to place the package somewhere specific.
I also personally feel like smart security doorbell cameras are much more than devices to catch criminals. I use my doorbell camera to alert me to when packages are delivered. I then try to run home to get it inside or I ask one of my neighbors to hold it for me. I haven’t had an attempted theft yet, but if one occurs and my doorbell alerts me of someone’s presence via my smartphone, most doorbells do have the option of speaking from your phone to the device. Yelling at a thief via your doorbell may just spook them enough to drop your package and dart.
As an extra FYI before I go, be sure to download the Neighborly app and join your local neighborhood page on Facebook. As a homeowner and the head of a crime intelligence organization, I have found those two things to aid in the safety of one’s home and neighborhood greatly. Facebook mom’s are vigilant. I know this because I am one.