‘Tis the season for porch piracy: How to keep packages from being stolen

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — ‘Tis the season for shopping, shipping, and gifting. It’s also when we could see an uptick in package thefts.

Package theft can impact a lot of people: an entire neighborhood, the gift giver, the intended recipient, and the seller.

Olivera Bratich owns Wildcat Gift and Party. One of her biggest concerns is whether a holiday gift makes it to its destination or is plucked by porch pirates.

“Everything online on our website is available through shipping or porch delivery,” she said. “So, we deliver to porches all over Columbus and we deliver gifts as well as balloons — we do balloon delivery all year round.”

A stolen package isn’t a simple matter for her.

“It really does affect small businesses because we just don’t have the margins to replace things that are stolen,” Bratich said. “The minute we have to do that, we’re actually taking money out of our own pocket to do so.”

Package thefts and thieves are also a big concern for local police.

“These are crimes of opportunity most of the time,” said Worthington Division of Police Officer Emily Lanzer. “Thieves will be driving around looking for a FedEx truck, UPS truck or Amazon and just slowly kind of follow behind the truck a block away or so, run up and grab the package off the porch.”

She said her department is ramping up neighborhood patrols to help prevent these types of crimes. The department recommends scheduling deliveries for when you’ll be home or ask a neighbor to tuck it away. Specific delivery instructions can help, too.

Video doorbells can also be a deterrent.

“[They] are a good way to a see who’s coming to your porch so you know when the package arrives, you can get it promptly and plus you can record anyone coming to steal your package if one does get stolen,” Lanzer said.

Bratich said despite her shipping worries, she has high hopes for the holiday shopping season.

“We can’t wait,” she said. “It’s our favorite time of the year. We get to see familiar faces and new faces in the store and deliver all over the country. It’s really fun.”

Lanzer encourages neighbors to look out for one another. If you see someone stealing a package, call the police right away.

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