This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Your porch and your mailbox are likely beginning to fill up with holiday mail, and unfortunately, potential thieves have their sights set on those areas hoping you won’t see them snatch your orders.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service records mail theft complaints. The latest numbers from March 2020 to February 2021 show almost 300,000 mail theft reports filed. Our team found that’s a 161% increase over the same timeframe in 2019-2020.

“The biggest and most important thing they can do is not to leave mail and packages unattended for any period of time,” said Kathy Woliung, a U.S. Postal inspector in Indianapolis.

Here are several steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Keep track of when packages are supposed to arrive.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor or family member to collect your packages if you are unavailable.
  • Request a signature confirmation during delivery.
  • Consider the USPS’ Hold for Pickup Option.

“Tell them that you’re going to be out of town, you’re not available for a specified period of time, and the postal service will hold that mail for you during that specific period of time,” Woliung said.

When it comes to dropping off mail, there are options, but they come with warnings. Postal service workers say if you’re going to use one of the blue boxes around your area, just make sure you pay attention to the collection times.

“My suggestion is use that from daylight or opening hours through 5 or whatever the posted time is on that box,” Woliung said.

Cash is always a great gift, and thieves agree. That’s why they hunt for your holiday mail.

“Christmas cards, so from that standpoint as far as mail, a lot of people send money. Bad idea,” said Paul Toms, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 39.

Mail theft is a federal crime.

Woliung urges people to make sure their surveillance cameras are recording their front porches and mailboxes. If theft does happen, she said that video is helpful evidence.