Burlington Police Offer Tips On Stopping Porch Pirates

Laveta Brigham

BURLINGTON, MA — Online shopping has reached an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic as package thieves gear up for the holiday season in Burlington and across the country. Burlington police Lt. Glen Mills said that there has not been a lot of package theft in Burlington this year, […]

BURLINGTON, MA — Online shopping has reached an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic as package thieves gear up for the holiday season in Burlington and across the country.

Burlington police Lt. Glen Mills said that there has not been a lot of package theft in Burlington this year, but there’s likely to more of it as the holidays approach.

“I am aware of recent incidents in Everett, Lynn and Sudbury and expect many more throughout the region in the coming weeks,” Mills said.

Mills noted that more people working from home might make life harder for would-be package thieves, as do home security cameras and doorbell cameras.

“To prevent package theft we give advice every year via social media and we encourage people to call us if they see suspicious behavior,” Mills said. We share and receive information with other agencies throughout the region to identify suspects and we increase patrols every year at key locations during peak hours so that the regular sector cars aren’t tied up and can keep patrolling their areas of concern.”

He offered ten tips for residents to avoid become victims of porch piracy:

  1. “Have packages delivered to safe places. This can include smart package lockers such as Amazon Locker, your workplace (if they allow it), and PO Box service agencies that accept packages.

  2. Use delivery tracking to track your package and know when it will be delivered. You can then make sure someone picks it up for you when it is dropped off.

  3. If you can, schedule deliveries for when you are going to be at home. If you are going to be away, place a hold on any packages and mail until you get back.

  4. You can often require a signature upon delivery to make sure a package is not left on your steps

  5. You can install security cameras such as video doorbells to deter and catch package thieves. Putting up signs letting people know they are being recorded is also a good deterrent.

  6. Make sure you have good lighting on your steps. Motion lighting is great because it attracts more attention when someone gets close.

  7. If you are going to order something expensive get insurance

  8. Report any suspicious behavior to the Burlington Police right away 781-272-1212. We are not concerned about how someone looks, but their behavior. Specifically, behavior that is unusual. Examples would be cars following delivery trucks or people that appear to be going door to door who aren’t soliciting. The best thing we can get is a number plate as this allows us to quickly identify suspects.

  9. Follow the BPD on Social Media. If there is a crime trend going on this is the first place we will tell you about it.

  10. Sign up for Code Red Alerts from the Town of Burlington. If you don’t pay attention to the news and a crime trend becomes very concerning we will call you.”

More than 5.5 million Americans have been victimized by package thefts over the past year, according to Finder, a personal finance comparison website, in a study released in November.

About $5.4 billion worth of items were stolen in package thefts from November 2019 to November 2020, the Finder determined.

Because of the busy online shopping month of December, that number is likely to grow by the end of the year.

Fewer people were in the nation’s malls on Black Friday, and Cyber Monday is expected to become the busiest online shopping day of all time when all sales are totaled, according to The Associated Press.

Overall holiday season sales in 2020 are expected to rise 0.9 percent, with a 36 percent jump in online sales, a study by the research company eMarketer shows.

Porch pirates could see a prime opportunity to take advantage of the expected spike in packages left at front doors.

They usually get away with it, too. Only 11 percent of victims said the culprits were caught, according to a 2019 study by C+R Research.

Who Steals A Package?

Men are found to be more likely to be both package thieves and victims of the crime, according to the Finder study. With 5.29 percent of men admitting having stolen a package compared with 0.85 percent of women, men are more than 500 percent more likely to be package thieves than women, the study found.

Seventeen percent of men say a package of theirs was stolen during the past year, compared with 11 percent for women.

Still, 86 percent of the nearly 2,000 participants in the study said they have not experienced a package theft since this time last year.

Prevention Tips

Here are five tips Finder shared to help Americans keep from becoming a victim of a package theft:

  • Try curbside pickup: Drive to the store; most of them offer curbside pickup options.

  • Use a post office box: This will ensure the package is handled by a professional at the Burlington post office.

  • Video surveillance: Doorbell cameras such as Ring can allow homeowners to scare away the thief in real time.

  • Require a signature: This way, the package cannot go unattended.

  • Have it sent to your workplace: Public places typically have a greater chance of using security cameras.

This article originally appeared on the Burlington Patch

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