Police warn shoppers against package theft during holiday shopping season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— Americans are expected to spend more than $100 billion shopping online during the 2017 holiday season; that’s more than a 13-percent increase over 2016.

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is fast approaching, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates 69-percent of Americans are planning to shop, or consider shopping, during Thanksgiving weekend into Cyber Monday.

But shoppers may want to think twice before clicking “ship” and sending online deliveries straight home. Each year, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. says its officers see a rise in reported package thefts.

“It’s a quick theft,” said Officer Genae Cook with IMPD, “you’ll notice is cars going back and forth up and down the street so it’s a good time for your neighbors to be diligent watching out for strangers in the neighborhood.”

1. Track deliveries:
The simplest way to protect your packages, police say is to closely track a package to make sure someone is home at the scheduled time of delivery. Many delivery services like UPS and FedEx offer up to the minute notifications and options for push alerts when a delivery is physically dropped off.

2. Ship directly to stores:
If no one can be home at the scheduled delivery time, authorities say shoppers may want to consider having their online purchases shipped directly to a nearby store. Many retail and department stores offer a ship-to-store option upon checkout, assuring protection until the buyer can go, show proof of purchase and pick the item up.

UPS offers a similar feature where packages shipped via UPS can be directed to a brick and mortar UPS store location close to a person’s residence. FedEx allows users to redirect packages to an entirely new location after they’re shipped, or to be on “hold” at a FedEx location nearby.

3. Amazon Key/Amazon Lockers:
Online shoppers in Indianapolis have a new feature if their online purchasing takes them to Amazon. The retail giant just rolled out Amazon Key in the Indianapolis area.

Amazon Prime members can get Amazon packages delivered inside their doors after installing the Amazon Key In-Home Kit which includes a cloud cam, indoor security camera and compatible smart lock. Members receive a notification when their packages arrive, and can watch surveillance to make sure the amazon delivery person is just opening to door to quickly drop the package off.

If the in-home drop off seems too intrusive, Amazon offers ten Amazon Lockers in Indianapolis, Carmel and Fishers.

When shopping on Amazon, members can select a convenient locker location for their package to be shipped to. After the package is delivered, members have three days to punch in their unlock code and safely retrieve their delivery.

1 W Washington St, Indianapolis 46204
4905 S Emerson Ave., Indianapolis 46203
6101 N Keystone Ave, Indianapolis 46220
5410 E 82nd Street, Indianapolis 46250
1418 S Rangeline Rd, Carmel IN 46032
14390 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel IN 46032
14598 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel IN 46032
2554 E 146th St., Carmel IN 46033
11581 Geist Pavilion Dr., Fishers IN 46037
704 E. State Road 32, Westfield IN 46074

4. Surveillance:
Home surveillance systems are becoming increasingly popular in America. Police often rely on video from Ring or NestCam systems to get a look at package thieves.

IMPD says at least two different home security systems captured video of the same thief stealing packages from doorsteps near 20th Street and Ruckle, last week. Without video or witnesses, police say catching these criminals can be difficult.

5. Porch alarms/lock boxes:
Lock boxes aren’t new to 2017, but they are a viable option for individuals who want their deliveries right when they get home, but who don’t want to risk theft by having them sit out all day.

Several different companies sell substantial, crate-like boxes which can be unlocked with a code specified in delivery instructions.

Other technology, like the Package Guard, acts as a physical alarm to alert of package theft. The wifi-enabled Package Guard disc sits on the porch with a clear marker for deliveries to be placed on top. The disc senses the added weight and sends out an alarm and alert via an app to the owner if the weight is removed and the package is stolen.

6: Apps
There’s an app for everything involving online shipping; from better tracking deliveries, rerouting shipments, to even finding a second-party delivery service.

For example, the Doorman app allows users to schedule package deliveries after typical work hours, between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week. App users can designate a Doorman warehouse for their delivery location when checking out online, the package sits at the warehouse during the day and is then re-shipped at night after common work hours.

7. Require a signature upon delivery:
Authorities say another simple, tech-free way to assure safe delivery is to opt for a signature-upon-delivery. The “missed” delivery slips can be annoying, but by requiring someone to physically sign for, and take in a package, it eliminates the possibility of someone snatching up a package left on a doorstep.

IMPD says its officers often increase neighborhood patrols during the holiday season, and police are on the lookout for suspicious people and cars who may be casing neighborhoods. However, without the public’s help reporting thefts and any suspicions, IMPD says there isn’t much it can do to prevent these crimes.

“Sometimes people who have packages dropped off—they’re right in front of the house, they’re very easily seen and you got to think about that—the officers can only do so much. But, again, it takes the community to help out and help the officers in anyway that they can.” Officer Cook added.

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