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Porch pirates: Protecting your online holiday purchases from crooks

KETTERING — Police are warning people to beware of porch pirates if you plan to shop online for gifts this holiday.

Officers say they are seeing more cases with people stealing packages from people’s front porches, as internet shopping on sites like Amazon become more common.

However, investigators say residents are starting to help slow the thefts with technology advances.

“The Ring doorbells and some of the other systems that are out have really kind of put somewhat of a curb on that, because now people who are doing that can be identified,” said Officer Joe Ferrell with the Kettering Police Department.

In addition to technology, Fed-Ex says they recommend having packages delivered to a family member’s home who will be home or requiring a signature for the package to be delivered.

According to the FBI, one in five homeowners were targeted by porch pirates in 2017.

“I’d be aggravated. That’d be frustrating,” said Wendy Ireland of Kettering.  “Sometimes the delivery people aren’t as careful as I think they should be.”

UPS often hires package runners that assist in delivering packages during the holiday season.  A former package runner told this news organization they are trained to watch for suspicious activity, like vehicles following delivery trucks.

The United States Postal Service offers a program called Informed Delivery, which allows customers to digitally preview mail and manage packages scheduled to arrive at your home. The program allows you to provide delivery instructions, manage notifications and scheduled redelivery, according to USPS’s website.

It’s not just the packages people have delivered to their homes they should be worried about, police also say it’s important to protect the gifts you’re buying in the stores.

“A lot of the newer cars now, especially if it is a hatchback will have a Velcro cover or something, so you can cover that back, so that you can’t see anything in there,” Ferrell said.

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