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Tips on how to avoid porch pirates this holiday season

The national retail federation estimates that online and non-store sales are up 10 percent this year. Law enforcement agencies provide advice against porch piracy.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Law enforcement agencies are providing advice against porch piracy ahead of the busy holiday season.

The National Retail Federation estimates that online and non-store sales are up 10 percent this year.

Agent Robert DeShields with the United States Postal Inspection Service explained that this holiday season would be a busy one for the postal service.

"The postal service delivers to over 160 million addresses daily. And on a normal volume, they handle about 425 million pieces of mail each day. So of course, with the holiday season coming up and Christmas time, I can just, you know, assume that packages and mail are flowing in a little bit heavier than normal," DeShields said.

Security.Org estimated that nationally, 49 million Americans have had at least one package stolen from July 2021 to July 2022.

"We deal with them all of the time, this time of year, especially, we are dealing with them every single day," said corporal Natalie Eucce with the Fayetteville Police Department.

In 2021, Arkansas lawmakers made the crime a class D felony which is punishable by up to 6 years in prison.

"From start to finish this is federally protected, and we put that stamp on there. So regardless of what's inside that package, we look at it as 'hey, you know, this is a crime,'" said DeShields.

"I think people who have been stealing packages regularly for years, they probably knew that they were just facing a little misdemeanor," said Cpl. Eucce. "Now it's a felony and hopefully that can help them either go to jail for longer for it and that'll get them to stop, or they'll stop because they don't want to be charged with the felony."

Law enforcement officials provided some precautions including:

  • Tracking the package
  • Have the package sent to a P.O. box
  • Asking a neighbor or someone you trust to pick up your package
  • Delivering the package to a secure location with someone available
  • Setting out a pool deck box with a lock for a postman to lock afterward
  • Asking for a mail hold
  • If in an apartment, have the package delivered to the clubhouse, lobby, or office that is staffed while you work
  • Installing video surveillance or a doorbell video camera

"It's a crime of opportunity. And what we want to do is eliminate the opportunity for somebody to have their mail possibly taken," said DeShields.

Cpl. Eucce says the number one tool against porch piracy for the police department has been video surveillance.

"When you get a doorbell camera or surveillance video, it might appear to be expensive. But having those at your house has saved a lot of people so much money," said Cpl. Eucce. 

"We're able to then see somebody's face, see what they're wearing, see their car in the background. And with how many officers we have, we can all work together. And usually, somebody recognizes them. If not, somebody in the community has helped us on social media."

Officials say that if you suspect any tampering with your mail or have had a package stolen, you can contact your local law agency or the US postal inspection service at 1-877-876-2455.

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