'Tis the season, and more packages are starting to arrive daily. Left unmonitored, though, those packages can be a prime target for theft. Dickinson Police Department has the following tips to help protect your package:
Schedule deliveries for when you will be home; Have packages delivered to your work (if allowed); Arrange for a neighbor to pick up packages; Install a lockbox; Utilize a commercial mailbox service; Require delivery signatures if shipment allows; Invest in a security system or digital doorbell.
"The most important part is to make sure your package isn't sitting out on the driveway or on your front steps," Capt. David Wilkie, Dickinson Police Department, said.
Instructions can be left with carriers to have the packages left in specific places that are not in public view, such as behind a garbage container.
"You can ask them to place it over the fence," Wilkie said. "It would be out of view and in your yard. People wouldn't be able to see it, therefore it's a lot safer."
He added, "It's about making sure the delivery suits you so it's spending less time in view."
Dickinson does not have a high number of package theft incidences, Wilkie said, but during the holidays, like any other place, the number of those thefts do increase.
"Every place gets an increase during the holiday season when the whole delivery system picks up and there's a lot more packages being delivered," he said. "Dickinson, South Heart, Gladstone...everyone gets an increase in theft."
Numbers increase because package theft is a "crime of opportunity" according to Wilkie.
"Anytime you have crimes of opportunity, even those who sometimes wouldn't commit a crime, will commit a crime because it's just too easy," Wilkie said.
If you think your package has been stolen, the first step is to check the delivery date, and check with the carrier.
"Most people can track their packages by phone or computer," Wilkie said.
Once it is confirmed the package was left at the correct address, then report the theft.
Theft is generally a misdemeanor, but depending on the value of the package and its contents it could become a felony charge, Wilkie explained.
"All thefts are determined by the value," he said.
Special attention is not given to holiday packages, as DPD resources are limited. The DPD remains vigilant, though, and readily responds to concerns, Wilkie said.
"If one of the UPS drivers thinks there's someone following him and that person might be stealing packages, and we get calls that verify that, we would probably put a detail on that truck or next few deliveries to see if we can catch those people," he said. "But there's 15, 20 delivery trucks out and we've got seven officers on the street."