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Steps to stop porch pirates this holiday season

Online shoppers should be aware of ‘porch pirates’ - people stealing packages from unsuspecting homeowners. In fact, package theft is at an all-time high since so many people are using online services. Although certain crimes occur more often around the holidays, the U.S. Postal Service has a few ways you can keep your packages safe from thieves.

• Don’t leave delivered packages unattended. If possible, don’t leave delivered packages unattended for long periods of time.

• Take advantage of online tracking services offered by retailers; if the company says it was delivered but it’s not at the delivered address, report it.

• Consider monitoring the front door. If you have a home security camera system, make sure it captures activity at your front door and mailbox. If you catch any mail thieves in the act, save the video and alert your local Postal Inspectors. Video surveillance goes a long way in preventing crimes and catching bad guys.

• Customize the delivery. If you know the package is going to be larger than the mailbox, authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified out-of-sight location. You can also request pick-up at their facility.

• Secure the shipment. Signature confirmations ensure that the package ends up in the right hands. Register your most valuable packages so special care and documentation are used every step of the way. Ship your packages to where you are, not where you aren’t.

• Watch for suspicious activity. Some thieves follow delivery trucks waiting for the opportune time to steal packages. If you notice something out of place in your neighborhood, report it to the proper authorities with specific details.