‘Tis the season to protect your packages, as more and more people choose to shop from the safety of their homes, hoping to keep themselves and others healthy during the pandemic. Predictably, as the holidays approach, small businesses report their numbers of in-person shoppers have been on the decline, while online orders with shipping are on the rise. Meanwhile, an estimated 23 million Americans have had a package stolen from their front porch or mailbox. Locally, throughout Glades, Hendry and Collier counties, porch piracy has become more and more common.
“Our place is pretty rural, and we haven’t had this issue before,” said Janet Torres, a longtime resident of Fort Denaud, “But we have already had packages taken twice this month! We are definitely going to put up some cameras now.”
“Our neighborhood has never had porch pirates, but this year it’s been a constant problem,” Clewiston resident Sherrie Marshall said. “I guess everyone has had more deliveries than usual, we’re all shopping online these days, because of the COVID.”
A family in Immokalee reported that even with their packages being left inside their front gate, with a guard dog on duty, a few important boxes had still gone missing.
There are some things you can do to protect your packages this holiday season. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has offered some tips to help you protect your package deliveries this holiday season:
• Have your packages delivered somewhere that you or a trusted person can physically receive the package. To your work, a neighbor, a friend, a relative, etc. Requiring a signature should ensure it gets to a person.
• Have the package held in a “will call” fashion at the local shipping facility or their local box store, if one exists. You will be required to show your identification when you pick it up in person. Amazon offers secure pick-up lockers at various locations.
• Track the package through the company to know the exact time and location of delivery. It can minimize the time the package is left alone.
• Utilize motion sensor cameras at the location of delivery to know it’s there and see if anyone else approaches it.
• Purchase insurance for packages of value in case they are lost, stolen or damaged.
• Be a good neighbor. If you or your cameras observe suspicious activity, save the footage and let law enforcement know. Even if you are not victimized, you may have captured someone who victimized a nearby neighbor or who may victimize you in the future.
• Make an effort to support local businesses. Many offer convenient online and in-person shopping experiences. If the price is right, a safe pick-up from their store will eliminate any shipping worries you may have.
Lastly, make sure you contact law enforcement immediately if you observe a theft in progress or suspicious activity, or if you’ve had a package stolen.