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4:03 AM Fri, Oct. 19th

Stealing Christmas Cheer: Porch pirates are being Grinches

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially for porch pirates.

They’re looking for low-hanging fruit like Christmas packages left on your doorstep by delivery services, and they’ll drown your holiday cheer in a matter of seconds.

Thieves are thriving on the increase in online holiday shopping, which is expected to reach a record $110 billion this year, according to a report from Deloitte.

They typically tail a UPS or FedEx driver and pounce on the goods as soon the truck turns the corner. InsuranceQuotes reported some 23 million packages were stolen from Americans’ homes in 2015.

A UPS worker in Kingman had no comment on package theft.

However, a UPS spokesman acknowledged in a company statement that package theft was gaining notoriety as more incidents are being caught on home surveillance cameras.

Kingman Police Department received numerous reports Monday of packages being stolen from people’s front door shortly after delivery, Deputy Police Chief Rusty Cooper said.

The thefts occurred during the day, and surveillance footage from one of the homes showed a white woman with bleached blond hair, wearing a blue hoody with an “ABC” logo, stealing a package.

The suspect reportedly got into a four-door white Ford pickup, possibly an F-250 or F-350.

“If you see something, say something,” Cooper said.

Daniel Willis, manager of Mailboxes Net at 3900 Stockton Hill Road, said it’s kind of tough preventing package theft once it’s left on your doorstep.

“Basically, you make sure you get a signature on them,” he said. “You pay $6 or $7 extra and somebody has to sign for it to be delivered. Just make sure there’s tracking to the doorstep.”

Stick around the house if you know something’s coming that day, or ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for it, Willis added.

Most parcel delivery companies have options available for recipients to opt out of door delivery, and choose an alternative delivery method and pickup location.

Many companies have mobile device apps that can track a package’s location and relay an expected delivery time.

Other options to discourage porch pirates include video surveillance systems, which are becoming more affordable and easier to install, Cooper noted. Posting signs about video surveillance and alarms could also serve as a deterrent.

“At a minimum, make every effort to not leave packages unattended for an extended period of time,” Cooper said. “Contact a friend or neighbor to retrieve the package for you. Remove the temptation and increase the likelihood of detection and apprehension.”

Anyone who suspects a thief in their neighborhood can contact Kingman Police Department at 928-753-2191, or report tips online by going to www.kingmanpolice.com and clicking on “Give a Tip.”

Here are some basic tips to prevent package theft:

• Ask for a tracking number to know when your package is being delivered and try to be home at the time of delivery.

• FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service allow you to schedule a delivery beforehand, so you can set a time you’ll be home.

• Request a signature for delivery. The package won’t be left at your door unless you’re there to sign for it.

• Leave a note specifying a less conspicuous place to leave the package, like behind a plant or the back door.

• If possible, have packages delivered to your workplace, or a friend’s or neighbor’s house.

• UPS offers a service called UPS My Choice, which allows you to request packages be held at a UPS store for pickup, or reroute packages to a different address if you won’t be home.