HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday within days of each other, local authorities are warning residents to take precautions to deter package thefts.
In a Tweet published Wednesday, the Henrico County Police Department (HCPD) noted that several delivery services have an option to hold packages at a retail location until they can be picked up. Companies such as Amazon, UPS and FedEx offer choices like this.
According to Amazon’s website, if no one is at the address when delivery is attempted, the company will leave the package in a secure location. If no secure location is available, or the delivery requires someone to be present, Amazon will send an e-mail to the e-mail address on file.
“With the increase of online shopping, we’re seeing more theft of packages,” Henrico Police Community Officer S.R. Numi said. “Please track your packages. Have a secure way for delivery, and if you’re not home to receive those packages, get a neighbor or a trusted individual to pick that package up for you.”
According to online security site SafeWise, more than three in four Americans have been a victim of package theft in their lifetime. Moreover, data shows that 54% of individuals in the U.S. plan to shop online more than they did the previous year.
“A number of retail organizations have boosted and advertised some of the package delivery starting this month, and it goes into the holiday seasons,” Lieutenant David Naoroz with the Richmond Police Department (RPD) previously told 8News. “That’s typically where we see our uptick.”
Fulton Hill resident Patrick Morley experienced this firsthand on Nov. 19.
“My girlfriend and I were at the movies and we were waiting for the movie to start, and I looked at the app on my phone that records everything that happens around our house, and we saw some guy just walk onto our porch and just walk off with the package,” he told 8News.
As Morley watched the theft happen with his girlfriend’s parents just inside the home, he said there was nothing he could do. But with surveillance video recording the incident, he told 8News that he plans to file a police report.
“It feels like an invasion of privacy, someone just walking on our porch and walking away with who knows what,” he said. “It seems like it happens everywhere.”
Sergeant Kerry Hansen with HCPD confirmed that.
“This is a crime of opportunity,” she said. “Package thefts occur everywhere, no matter where in the county: apartment complexes, neighborhoods, condo associations.”
Aside from requesting that a retailer or shipper hold packages that have been ordered online, Sgt. Hansen said that authorities suggest alerting a trusted neighbor to help retrieve the package, and investing in home surveillance systems, such as the one that caught Morley’s porch pirate on camera.
“If you do have the surveillance, hopefully, it will deter the thief from stealing from you,” Hansen said. “But if they do end up stealing from you, hopefully, the police can solve the case if you have surveillance, possibly a license plate, or description of the suspect.”
Oftentimes, Sgt. Hansen said that victims of package thefts do not alert authorities because it can be easier to have a retailer replace or refund the stolen item than launch an investigation.
“If we don’t know about it, we can’t help you and we can’t help to solve it,” she said.
That’s why Morley told 8News that he initially installed the surveillance camera in the first place, and will be reaching out to police with the information he has.
Hansen also warned that residents should be locking their car doors every night to deter thefts from vehicles.
“Any time of year, especially during the holidays, I would also encourage you to not leave any valuables in your vehicle,” she said. “It is completely a crime of opportunity that can be committed by anyone.”