Mail thefts are growing with coronavirus and the holidays

Reporter: Rich Kolko Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
FILE- In this May 9, 2017, file photo, a package from Amazon Prime is loaded for delivery in New York. Last year, the online retailer introduced a system for letting people delivering packages into customers’ homes. Now, it’s their cars. GM says more than 7 million owners of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles are eligible for Amazon’s new Amazon Key In-car delivery service. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

One sheriff’s office in Texas is ramping up efforts ahead of the holidays to combat package thefts across the county.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday shopping season, a gold mine for porch pirates – or thieves who steal packages outside resident’s homes. This year, retailers are anticipating an uptick in home deliveries due to the ongoing pandemic.

As people start receiving more mail and packages, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Burglary and Theft Unit investigators are leading several porch pirate sting operations in Harris County with support from the agency’s patrol units and U.S. Postal Inspectors.

“Beyond catching porch pirates who come into our neighborhoods to snatch our holiday packages, our goal is to also deter this activity from taking place by letting would-be package thieves know that we’re out here,” said Burglary and Theft Investigator Javier Ureña. “This is one example of many proactive policing efforts aimed at reducing crime in our communities.”

Burglary and Theft Unit investigators will be placing multiple decoy packages with a tracking device on residential porches to help investigators identify and locate the perpetrators. If a porch pirate takes one of the GPS-tracked packages, investigators receive an alert and can follow it in real-time.

Law enforcement urges you to take steps that will help avoid packages being stolen from their doorstep, such as signing up for tracking notifications, retrieving packages as soon as they arrive, or requiring a signature for delivery. Instead of having a package delivered to your home, investigators are asking residents to consider other delivery locations to pick up and return packages, including Amazon Hub Locker locations and postal boxes.

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