Holiday gifts are on the way and so are the thieves

People who engage in online shopping sometimes have to deal with the concern that those holiday presents won’t make it inside their homes.

According to a study from Capital One Shopping, 14 percent or 1-in-7 Americans lost packages to theft in 2022.

Security.org’s annual report for 2022 shows that 17 percent of Louisiana residents have lost a package to theft in the last 12 months.

Sgt. Tonya Castle-Faison with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said the calls about packages being stolen from homes increase during the holidays.

“Leave instructions for your driver,” she said. “Most of the delivery companies these days have where you can leave specific instructions on the location of where you want it placed. Have someone sign for the package or a specific timeframe when somebody will be home to receive the package or something like that. That would reduce the thefts tremendously.”

Castle-Faison said another way to reduce theft is to keep as much of your purchases out of sight as possible.

“Lessen the amount of indirect advertising,” she said. “If you get high-dollar or big items, break the boxes down and cut them as small as you can and maybe wait to put them out as long as possible. Maybe the day of trash collection. Criminals are out there doing their ‘research.’ They are out there looking to see who is putting what out. Believe it or not, it’s happening. Try to reduce the visibility of what you’re receiving.”

Castle-Faison has been with APSO for nine years and a part of law enforcement for 15 years. She said visibility is key for law enforcement and battling package theft. Neighborhood patrols have had to increase because package thefts have increased.

“For the most part, Ascension Parish is a safe parish,” she said. “I think people get a little lax and think because we’re so safe, it just doesn’t happen here. It does. I want people to be more diligent. I want the neighbors to look out for one another a little bit more, and if you see something that doesn’t look right, it probably is not.”

Here are some tips to combat package theft, according to Safewise.

Install security cameras

Look for cameras with motion detectors that can alert you to movement on your porch via your smartphone or other mobile devices. Cameras that record and playback activity are also helpful.

Get to know delivery drivers

You can let your delivery people know your preferences for when and where you want packages delivered, and sometimes, they recommend alternative options if you’re expecting packages when you’re away from home.

A driver who knows you may be more likely to leave a notice about an attempted delivery instead of leaving your package at risk.

Amazon Locker

If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you can access Amazon Lockers. These self-service lockers let you safely pick up your Amazon purchases at a nearby location (like a convenience store or Whole Foods) when you’re ready to take them home.

Amazon Lockers eliminate the need to have items delivered to your home, and they keep your packages secure until you’re available to pick them up. Lockers are currently available at over a dozen locations in the greater Baton Rouge area.

How to find Amazon locker locations

Go to the Amazon website or app and type Amazon Hub Locker locations in the search bar. After that, enter your address, zip code, or landmark to find the nearest lockers.

Upgrade your mailbox

There are lockboxes and secure parcel drops that can either replace your current mailbox or be added specifically for package delivery.

If you receive packages delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS), you must ensure the new dropbox installed is USPS-approved.

Team up with neighbors

Team up with your neighbors by agreeing to look out for strangers in the neighborhood and keep an eye on deliveries at one another’s homes.

Try to have packages delivered to a neighbor who will be home if they are OK with it or ask a neighbor to grab a package off your porch if you get a notification that a package was delivered.

Add smart doorbell

Wi-Fi-enabled doorbell cameras let you see-and talk to-whoever is at the front door. Ring Video Doorbell includes a motion-activated camera, two-way audio, and an app that sends alerts to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Pick up packages in person

It’s not as convenient as getting your packages at your door, but one way to ensure a package is not stolen is to hold it at the post office or delivery service store until you can pick it up yourself.

UPS and FedEx have options to have packages held at the facility. Another option is to make sure your package requires a signature before the delivery company can release it. Always have tracking information for all packages.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area.

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