Look out for 'porch pirates' during holiday season

Look out for 'porch pirates' during holiday season

December 4th, 2017 by Joan McClane in Local Regional News

POLL: Have you ever had your mail stolen?

More than half of Americans are now buying their holiday gifts online, but as more and more people trade long lines and malls for computers and smartphones, experts warn consumers to keep a close eye on their orders.

The giving season is prime time for "porch pirates."

Package theft, which is increasingly pervasive as online shopping becomes more popular, is a major issue around Thanksgiving and Christmas, experts say.

According to a 2017 national survey conducted by Ring, a California based home security company, one in five homeowners — 20 percent of those surveyed — had been a victim of package theft in the last year, and 75 percent of those surveyed said they believed package theft was more prevalent during the holidays. Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said a neighbor had been affected by package theft, as well.

Victims of package theft had packages stolen an average of 2.6 times in the last year, according to the survey, and the average value of the stolen packages was $140.

Another study by Xfinity Home, Comcast's home security service, showed that half of Americans knew a victim of package theft and that 30 percent had been victims themselves.

Amazon, the nation's biggest online retailer, doesn't keep numbers on package thefts, according to a spokesperson, and neither does the Chattanooga Police Department.

But there are ways to protect purchases, said Elisa Myzal, spokeswoman for the police department:

» Track shipments online.

» Choose a shipping option that requires a signature upon delivery.

» Arrange to ship the package to a third party, someone who's typically home during the day or a place of business.

» Ask delivery service to hold the package for pick-up at their facility.

» Make sure the typical drop-off location at your home is well-lit.

» Ask the delivery driver to leave the package somewhere less obvious and/or visible.

» Install cameras.

Contact staff writer Joan McClane at jmcclane@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6601.