Law enforcement offers tips to protect against ‘porch pirates’

LANCASTER, P.A. --- With Cyber Monday a day past, packages will start finding their way onto doorsteps.

However, shoppers may need to protect their purchases from so-called "porch pirates," or people who steal packages sitting, unattended, at a home.

Lt. William Hickey with Lancaster City Police Department said a buyer's best friend can be tracking information provided by a delivery company to get an idea of when that package is supposed to get there.

Lt. Hickey said "porch pirating" isn't exclusive to the holiday season as it's a problem they've noticed year-round.

The difference, Hickey said, is this time of year, there's an uptick in deliveries.

"They're looking at the mail truck, they're looking at the UPS truck, they're looking at the FedEx truck, and they're seeing what houses are having stuff delivered," said Hickey.

Most of the incidents Hickey said they've responded to in years past involve someone simply following a delivery truck around a neighborhood.

"Sometimes it might just be a crime of opportunity where someone who's just walking down the street, who, otherwise, might not have had the opportunity, they see that porch unattended and just go up and take it," Hickey said.

For protection, Hickey said to use any kind of available surveillance to help law enforcement track any porch pirates, should packages be swiped.

He also said if a package is scheduled to arrive at a time when the buyer knows they wont be around, look to strength in numbers.

"If you have a family member that lives close by or a trusted neighbor, maybe have them pick up the package. Maybe even have it delivered to a location where you know someone is going to be home to receive it," said Hickey.

He also said to keep an eye out for others' packages since, more often than not, stolen packages are discarded by thieves in random places.

"Someone may call us and say, hey listen, I saw an Amazon box or FedEx box open on the side of the road and there's stuff laying there," said Hickey.

If a package is believed to be stolen, Hickey says report it to police even if you can get a replacement.

He said those reports play a vital role in identifying any serial porch pirates in specific neighborhoods, allowing them to send appropriate patrols to those areas.