Alabama NewsCenter is bringing you a series of “Holiday How To” tips to make this holiday season merry and bright.
More Americans than ever will be shopping online for gifts this holiday season, avoiding the rush at malls and department stores. In fact, many of those gifts have already been purchased, on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and will be dropped off this week on front porches and doorsteps across the nation.
Online shoppers aren’t the only ones anticipating those deliveries. So are thieves.
More than 23 million Americans have already been victims, according to a 2015 report by insuranceQuotes.com. A 2016 report commissioned by the security company August Home and conducted by the research firm Edelman Intelligence estimated that 11 million homeowners were victims of package theft during the prior 12 months.
“If a criminal sees a package sitting there on your doorstep, the opportunity is too great. They will steal first and check the value later,” said Officer Brian Hale, a crime prevention specialist with the Hoover Police Department. “We must all try to remove the opportunity that a thief needs to make you a victim.”
Here are some tips offered by Hoover Police to help keep your holiday deliveries out of the hands of prowling thieves:
- Schedule the delivery for a day when you know you will be at home. If that’s not possible, ask a neighbor to pick up your package and keep it until you can retrieve it.
- Have the package delivered to your work address. But first, be sure your company allows employees to receive personal deliveries.
- If ordering from a national chain, have the package delivered to pick up at your convenience.
- Sign up for email or text notification from the courier to let you know when the package has arrived.
- If available, take advantage of the option that allows someone to sign and acknowledge receipt of a delivery. If no one is at home to sign for the package, it will not be left on the doorstep.
- Never place a note on the door instructing the courier to leave the package. That’s an open invitation to potential thieves announcing that no one is at home.
- Install video surveillance of your front porch or entryway, along with a sign stating that your home is under surveillance.
- Consider installing some of the latest home security products, such as a video doorbell equipped with a camera and intercom system. When someone rings the doorbell, it activates the camera and notifies you on your cell phone. You can have a conversation with the visitor at the door, even if you’re not at home. The person at the door will never realize that you are not at home.
- If you see something, say something. Be alert for suspicious activity, and call 911 for emergencies. Be prepared to give a description of any suspicious people and vehicles, or anything else that may help the responding officer.
“There are many different ways to reduce the chances of having a package stolen,” Hale said. “One tip that doesn’t cost a single dime is simply just being a good neighbor. If you notice that your neighbors have a package on their doorstep, reach out to them and ask if they would like for you to hold onto it until they get home. If you do that, not only have you helped out your neighbors, but you’ve also taken an active role in reducing crime in your neighborhood. Sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact.”