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Risk of porch thefts higher around holidays, police say

Updated November 24, 2020 - 4:45 pm

The Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday urged Nevadans to be safe during the upcoming holiday season, both while protecting themselves from the coronavirus and protecting packages from porch thieves.

“2020 has been a trying year for everybody. The impacts of COVID-19 and what it’s doing to individual families and to communities and to businesses can’t be understated,” Capt. Nicholas Farese said during a press conference in an east valley neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon. “With that being said, we want our community to be able to celebrate the holiday season in a safe and efficient manner.”

Farese said the department expects the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directions to stay at home as much as possible to lead to an increase in online shopping. While more people may be at home to discourage porch thefts, Farese said people should still be vigilant about gifts arriving on doorsteps, especially the week following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Thieves know when packages are coming,” he said. “And they actively drive around neighborhoods such as the one we’re standing in right now, looking for packages on stoops.”

He said online shoppers should plan to be home when packages are being delivered, or ask friends, neighbors or family members to pick up packages if they’re unable to. Some online retailers, such as Amazon, also use lockers at designated locations for package pickup so that boxes are not left in the open.

After the holidays, Farese said Nevadans shouldn’t “advertise your trash to bad people.” If someone gets a large gift, such as a TV or laptop, Farese said the boxes should be broken down and placed in trash bags so that people passing by don’t know what is in your home.

‘Holiday Initiative’

As the governor on Sunday issued a three-week “statewide pause” with stricter requirements for mask usage and crowd sizes, Farese said shoppers can practice social distancing while avoiding packages in the mail through curbside pickup. For those who do go into stores, Farese asked shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, keep valuables out of sight if left in a car and to adhere to health measures.

Farese said the department on Saturday started it’s 2020 “Holiday Initiative,” during which uniformed and plainclothes officers throughout the valley will have a higher presence in “areas that are high value targets for criminals,” such as shopping malls and department stores.

He said that if holiday shoppers notice a larger police presence, it doesn’t mean a crime is happening.

“We are there to keep you and the patrons and the community safe,” he said.

Farese said it was too early to tell if a particular area of the valley has experienced an increase in crime as the holidays approach. But since the initiative started Saturday, police have made a “significant arrest” involving people suspected of “targeting big box stores to commit burglaries and to target people with packages.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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