How to keep Grinches from stealing your Christmas packages

(WRBL) — It’s that time of year again. The time of giving means many Americans will be getting more deliveries and packages left vulnerable on their doorsteps than usual.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says unfortunately gifts going missing is nothing new.

“It’s certainly not an unusual occurrence. Individuals that know obviously that these delivery trucks are — whether UPS, FEDEX, the US Mail, Amazon, whatever — know that they’re delivering these packages and follow them to a residence and then just wait until the coast is clear, so to speak, obtaining the package and leaving with it,” Sheriff Jones tells News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton.

One Columbus man shared surveillance video of two thieves making off with packages left on his doorstep earlier this week.

“It’s a humbling experience and makes you feel vulnerable that people will so brazenly take what we pay for with our hard-earned money,” Steve Wimberly writes to News 3. “I’ll continue to order things online but will have it sent to a PO Box or someone else’s house who I know will be home, which is a shame and somewhat defeats the purpose of ordering online.”

An Opelika woman, Allee Ellen, says she’s also no stranger to less than merry misfortune. She says last year, she had two large boxes of gifts delivered to her apartment, but sadly, they never made it under the tree.

“These packages I had stolen they were gifts for others, not things for myself, so it was definitely disheartening at first,” Ellen says. “One of the packages was, I wanna say at least 25 pounds so yeah, it was definitely large enough that they must have seen it and thought to take it.”

Ellen says she’s no longer angry with the person who stole her deliveries; however, this year she’s taken steps to make sure it will never happen again.

“After awhile I thought, well what if this was something that this person couldn’t provide for themselves or couldn’t provide for their family? That definitely softened my heart a bit,” Ellen shares. “But I mean now, I know where my packages are gonna be and when they’re gonna be there. I’m always checking on them through my email.”

She adds she’s also taken advantage of certain services delivery companies offer to ensure your packages reach their destinations.

“The biggest thing I’ve done is with the UPS My Choice. It shows when my packages are going to be delivered, where they’re going to be delivered, I’ve chosen to have them at the management office so they’re not on my front doorstep where everybody can see what they are,” Ellen says.

Sheriff Jones says monitoring your packages in transit is just one of many smart ways to protect your purchases.

“These types of thefts are crimes of opportunity, plain and simple. You remove the opportunity for a crime to occur, that crime doesn’t take place,” he says.

A few of the ways Sheriff Jones advises when having items delivered are:

  • Take advantage of delivery service tracking systems.
  • If you can, install home security cameras. The highest resolution you can, the better. Law enforcement have caught many thieves identified by home security recordings!
  • Require a signature on delivery. It may be inconvenient, but you’ll be assured to have your package in your hands and no one else’s.
  • Ask your workplace if you can have packages delivered to the building during business hours when you will be there to receive them.
  • Have a trusted neighbor or family member watch for your mail while you’re away.
  • If you will be out of town, switch your mailing addresses to your home town.
  • Many online retailers offer a “package hold” — enter the time when you will be available to receive the items so the delivery service has a window to reach you.
  • Sites like Amazon now offer paid locker services at commercial sites, where you can receive a code to pick up your package from your designated locker.

Sheriff Jones says one of the most important things to remember — if you see something say something.

“If it looks suspicious it probably is, call your local law enforcement and let them know, and we will be more than happy to send the unit in that area to respond and check out the individual involved or individuals, and try to prevent that from happening in the first place,” he says.

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