Police share tips to prevent 'porch pirates' from stealing packages

BRISTOL BOROUGH, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- It's happening in many communities: bandits stealing packages right off people's porches. And needless to say, it's a practice that becomes much more frequent during the holiday season.

It was the 1000 block of Pond Street Bristol, Pennsylvania where video captures a woman walking right up to the porch, take a package and take off.

Luckily, the homeowner had a Ring doorbell camera installed and we have a clear look at her face.

Unfortunately, the holiday season is also considered the prime season for the epidemic of porch pirating.

"We've had an increase in theft and especially with the porch pirates receiving packages from the delivery companies," Bristol Borough Police Chief Steven Henry.

Henry says his department, like all police departments across the country right now, are being extra vigilant.

"If you're not familiar with someone in your neighborhood and they're acting suspicious, walking back and forth, call the police," said Henry.

But the consumers can surely do their part to neutralize them.

Chief Henry adds there's nothing better than a good neighbor to cultivate the holiday spirit.

"Just be a good neighbor to your neighbors and actually try to take the packages in for them and vice versa is the best thing we can actually do," said Henry.

Police share some of these tips to prevent stolen packages:

- Customize your deliveries. Contact the carrier that is delivering the package by phone or online and specify where you want the package to go if you are not able to be home for the delivery

- Consider an alternate destination. Use a trusted neighbor or family member as a safe location if you won't be home. If you live in an apartment complex, check with the office to see if they will accept the package on your behalf

- Send it to FedEx, UPS, or a Post Office location and pick the package up from that location

- Request a signature and specify who can sign for it in your absence

- Request a vacation hold if you know ahead of time that you will be away

- Reroute your packages even when they are already on the way. You can contact the carrier by phone or online to change delivery locations

- Leave specific delivery instructions with the carrier to protect the package from the beginning

- Don't leave messages about when you will be home on your door; this tells criminals when you won't be there

- Purchase insurance for the package if you are able; many carriers already insure the packages which protect it from loss or damage
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