Everyone likes having packages delivered — including thieves.
As more boxes and envelopes are delivered during December, more are stolen from porches and mailboxes, Tri-City police said.
“Thefts increase this time of year because thieves know more packages are being shipped for Christmas,” said Pasco police Sgt. Scott Warren.
Some thieves drive around neighborhoods looking at porches and for overstuffed mailboxes.
“As people shift to more online purchases, it is going to be a continuing problem,” said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb. “In some cases, suspects track mail or FedEx trucks and stay a block or two behind them.”
Drivers are becoming educated, but can often miss the suspects, and that is where neighbors can help. Cobb said people should call 911 to report a suspicious vehicle, and try to include a license plate number and driver description.
The seasonal increase in thefts begins long before Christmas, said Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin. Package and mail deliveries started increasing in November.
The easiest way to avoid being a victim is to “be vigilant and don’t leave your stuff laying out,” Lattin said.
People can use tracking numbers on shipments to make sure someone is home when they are delivered.
“Talk to a neighbor and ask if they would take them in when they are delivered,” Warren said.
Installing a locking mailbox helps prevent envelopes and small packages from being stolen.
Whether it is packages on the porch or Christmas cards in the mailbox, get them inside right away.
Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin
Before confirming an online purchase, check the delivery address to make sure it is up to date, Lattin said.
Some companies allow employees to ship packages to their office.
If possible, ask the shipper to require a signature for delivery, Warren said.
“UPS.com states they will, at no additional charge, hold your package for up to five days at their customer center until you can go in and pick it up,” West Richland police said.
Police and sheriff’s deputies are patrolling, watching for crime.
“It’s something we are always on the lookout for,” Cobb said. “Mail theft is definitely bigger during the holidays.”
The key to avoiding being a victim of package or mail theft is not to leave them outside.
“Whether it is packages on the porch or Christmas cards in the mailbox, get them inside right away,” Lattin said.