Holiday season brings rise in package thefts from porches

It’s holiday time, when gifts are delivered and thieves watch homes for unattended packages.

Anyone who has had a delivery stolen off his or her doorstep knows the feeling of shock and disappointment.

“Thankfully, it hasn’t happened to me. … But over the past few years, I’ve shifted my strategy to have more delivered at work,” said Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications for Stations Casinos, “as I know that’s a better and safer solution.”

Larry Hadfield, Metropolitan Police Department officer, said there are no statistics on package thefts in Las Vegas but that “we are aware that during the holiday season, there are certain individuals in our society who like to go and steal packages off porches, so I think prevention is key when ordering stuff.”

Hadfield suggested tracking items or arranging for your package to be delivered to your work address, as Nelson does.

“For large packages, things of high value, request that someone (a trusted neighbor) sign for that package,” he said. “The idea being, they will take it into their home to hand over to you when you arrive home.”

What about those doorbells that alert your cellphone with real-time video?

“Surveillance … can assist us in investigations in trying to catch the people and recover your stolen property,” he said. “However, that is an after-the-fact thing.”

Shopping online from a major retailer can allow you to go to a store to pick up items. Shipping is free with that option. Andrea Avery, a U.S. postal inspector in Las Vegas, said another option is to request a hold for pickup.

“You can call or go online and ask the post office to redeliver your package or hold it at the post office until you can pick it up,” she said.

The post office reports that it delivers 5.5 million packages throughout Nevada between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, as well as 100 million cards and letters.

Nationally, it expects to deliver 16.5 billion cards, letters and packages during this same period — an increase of 1 billion over last year. Of that number, more than 750 million are packages, a 12 percent increase over last year. The busiest delivery day: Dec. 22, when the Postal Service expects to deliver 30 million packages nationwide.

Matt O’Connor, UPS spokesman, noted that each UPS package is automatically protected against loss or damage up to $100. The sender can choose to purchase additional insurance. The company did not have numbers on how many thefts have been reported.

“We have not seen an increase in reported package theft even though deliveries, because of online shopping, have continued to increase (throughout the year),” he said.

UPS offers UPS My Choice, a free service that tracks packages and provides text or email notifications. One can change the delivery date or reroute a package to another location. It also offers more than 8,000 access-point locations nationwide.

“These can be your neighborhood dry cleaner, convenience store or deli that have evening and weekend hours,” O’Connor said. “You can pick up and drop off packages at these locations as an added level of security.”

A benefit of access-point pick-up is that your spouse and children don’t see a package until you’ve giftwrapped it.

Vigilant neighborhood watch groups help keep a neighborhood secure, Hadfield said.

“Think of how much you’re spending and just having it delivered to your home,” he said of package delivery. “Spend the extra couple of bucks to ensure you get it (by requiring a signature) or getting a two-day guarantee if you know you’re going to be home. You’re saving money in the end.”

To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email jhogan@viewnews.com or call 702-387-2949.

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