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How Dickinson's Grinch is stealing Christmas -- Package thefts a concern, police warn

The constant buzzing of delivery trucks through residential streets and the piling up of packages on porches means only one thing: Christmas shopping is well underway -- and with it, police say reports of package theft are a concern.

In the last 30 days, a handful of package thefts have been reported to Dickinson Police. Stock
In the last 30 days, a handful of package thefts have been reported to Dickinson Police. Stock

The constant buzzing of delivery trucks through residential streets and the piling up of packages on porches means only one thing: Christmas shopping is well underway - and with it, police say reports of package theft are a concern.

"We've received five or six reports of packages being stolen after delivery on a front step in the past 30 days or so," said Capt. Joe R. Cianni of the Dickinson Police Department. "The unfortunate thing is there are probably a number that go unreported because people just use the insurance claim from the shipping company."

These "bad Santas" aren't just porch prowling at random, police caution; instead, criminals have been spotted following delivery and postal vehicles and simply filling up their own four wheeled sleighs with your gifts.

"We've had reports of a vehicle following delivery trucks," Cianni said. "We've identified a vehicle but haven't ascertained for sure whether that vehicle is involved in the theft of packages, but we are investigating the matter."

Citizens are advised to protect themselves from becoming victims of theft by having a trusted member of their neighborhood pick up their packages or having packages delivered to the workplace. Should the misfortune of having a package purloined occur, police encourage victims to file a police report.

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Depending on what's inside the stolen package, Cianni says thieves could face charges ranging from petty misdemeanor to felony.

"Anything over $1,000 is a felony. It's a culmination of items that are stolen too," he said. "So if you have three items and their total evaluation is over $1,000, you'll be hit with a felony. Cell phones are quite pricey nowadays too, so they usually hit that valuation to warrant a felony charge. Felony charges also apply to being in possession of stolen property."

The police offer the following tips to residents in and around Dickinson:

• Activate package tracking and follow shipments to see when packages are delivered and secure them quickly.

• Require signatures when practical to ensure someone is home for deliveries.

• Ask a neighbor to watch for packages and hold them when they are delivered.

• Ship packages to secure locations, like a workplace or store, where they won't be left unattended.

• Ask neighbors if they would like packages secured for them.

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• When ordering online, check to see whether the item is being shipped in the original packaging under the shipping information. If a hoverboardis going to be delivered in the actual hoverboard packaging, thieves may be more likely to strike. Be especially cognizant of these type of packages.

The U.S. Postal Service has an online service, called Informed Delivery Digest, that will let customers see images of mail and track packages, even without a tracking number.

"The U.S. Postal Service is enhancing the mail experience nationwide with Informed Delivery - an optional notification service that provides eligible residential consumers with a digital preview of their household's mail," said Charity Adams, public information officer with USPS. "USPS leverages existing mail imaging processes to provide users with a digital preview of mail arriving soon. The Intelligent Mail Barcode on each mailpiece facilitates the entire process and helps prevent theft or loss of shipment."

For more information on Informed Delivery, visit usps.com

Police also urge residents to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

"It's pretty basic. Report suspicious activity like people walking in the neighborhood looking into cars or canvassing homes with packages on the porch," Cianni said. "Also, as the shopping season gets underway, make sure that packages in vehicles are not just lying in plain sight. Get them in the trunk or cover them up so that the temptation isn't there to break the window."

Local delivery companies are aware of the growing trend of porch prowlers and have taken necessary steps to alleviate the potential for theft by often becoming clever with their package delivery techniques.

If you believe you have had a package stolen from your property, contact the Dickinson Police Department or Stark County Sheriff's Office to file a report.

Related Topics: THEFT
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