Getting into the holiday spirit in 2020 might have many focusing on making adjustments to their traditions or maybe even considering alternatives, due to COVID-19 precautions. However, officers with the Asheville Police Department request residents remember an unfortunately common holiday season problem — theft.
From “porch pirate” package theft, to theft from your vehicle ( and sometimes even theft of the actual vehicle) — the crimes of opportunity can be endless.
“Not only is life a bit busier physically in the sense of vehicular traffic and foot traffic in shopping areas, our minds can be more occupied with tasks as well,” said APD Community Engagement Division Sergeant Josh Veridal. “These crimes we see at a higher volume around the holidays are often crimes of opportunity; the best thing we can do is take a minute and figure out what we can do to eliminate opportunities for these crimes. These steps can be simple but can also make a huge difference.”
Officers add there is a greater concern especially this year for package theft. Due to safety precautions many are taking during COVID-19, purchases are happening more often online. This means packages are often delivered to the house when residents aren’t home.
“There are people who follow delivery trucks and try to steal packages right after they’ve been delivered,” said APD Community Engagement Division Captain Mike Lamb. “These delivery services work closely with law enforcement many times to make us aware if they notice a car tailing their vehicle.”
Consider the following tips to help reduce crimes of opportunity this holiday season — whether you are shopping online or in person.
- Try arranging to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day, or get them delivered to your work, if permitted.
- Sign for it. Signature services via the USPS, and other delivery services, help ensure your package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.
- Use Internet-enabled security cameras. You can install them inside and outside your home, watch your property from anywhere and record any activity. If the cameras are visible, they might deter thieves from stealing your deliveries in the first place.
- Give special instructions to the package delivery service. Some services let you indicate where to leave your package if you’re not home. Using UPS’ My Choice tool, or Delivery Manager from FedEx, you can instruct drivers to leave a package at a back door, with a building superintendent, in a coded lockbox, or with neighbors.
- Ask a local retailer to order the item for store pick-up, which may help you save on shipping fees. Or just buy locally in person!
- Sign up for alerts. Some carriers offer text or email alerts so that you know when a delivery will be made and can adjust your own schedule accordingly. The U.S. Postal Service, for instance, recently started offering a service called Informed Delivery. Once you’ve filled in your address and other information, you can digitally preview images of your mail and its location without entering tracking numbers. That way you can be sure to be at home if something important is arriving. You can also sign up for text or email notifications through services such as FedEx and UPS, schedule delivery alerts, and request redelivery.
- Be sure to remove your valuables from your vehicle or at least hide them from plain view and lock your doors. Do not under any circumstances leave a running vehicle unattended.