As online shopping grows, so does the chance to have a package stolen; here are some tips |
Valley News Dispatch

As online shopping grows, so does the chance to have a package stolen; here are some tips

Brian C. Rittmeyer
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
U.S. postal carrier Tyler Bruce delivers a package in Tarentum on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018.

Just as many people will be buying gifts online as in department stores this holiday season, a survey by the National Retail Federation found. And online shopping on Cyber Monday is expected to be robust.

That means more packages being shipped to homes — and the possibility of them being swiped by thieves.

A poll conducted for Comcast by Wakefield Reserach found that three in 10 Americans who live in houses or townhouses have been victims of package theft; 53 percent of Americans know someone who has had a package stolen from outside their home.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley did not have statistics on how often package theft happens in the Pittsburgh area.

“It’s obviously higher during the holidays when people are getting more packages delivered,” said Tammy Mayle, spokeswoman for the Postal Inspection Service.

The inspection service investigates and seeks prosecution of those who steal mail and packages through the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Two men — Christopher E. Carr, 46, of Munhall and Ron M. Sharp, 42, of Duquesne — recently pleaded guilty to stealing mail and packages from apartments in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside and Oakland neighborhoods.

Mayle said package theft is more prevalent in the city, in apartment buildings and more highly populated areas. It often goes unreported.

However, the Postal Service says the theft of packages it delivers is rare.

The Postal Service delivers more than 20 million packages every day and our data indicate that the theft rate has been relatively flat over the last few years, the agency said.

Many shoppers will be making their purchases on Amazon, which offers a few ways to avoid becoming a victim of package theft.

They include Amazon Key , which allows packages to be placed inside front doors, which is a service available in Pittsburgh . Shoppers can also choose to have packages sent to an Amazon Locker , if there’s one nearby.

Tips offered by the Postal Service and UPS:

  • Have packages delivered to where you are instead of where you are not, such as to a work address. Or, have packages shipped to a relative or neighbor who is home during the day.
  • Schedule deliveries for times you will be home.
  • Tell drivers where to leave packages.
  • Require a signature.
  • Use a smart locker or lock box to secure and protect packages.
  • Package Guard , a service that uses a weighted scale to keep track of packages and sounds an alarm if they are removed unexpectedly.
  • Doorman , which will pick up packages and re-deliver them during a scheduled window.
  • Monitor front porches with security cameras or video doorbells, which can be used to keep an eye on packages and deter thieves.
  • Use UPS access points , locations such as UPS stores and neighborhood businesses, which offer package drop-off and pick-up. UPS also offers mailbox services at its stores.

UPS suggests those who believe they’ve had a package stolen from their residence call local authorities to file a police report and contact the shipper to check for reimbursement or having it shipped again.

The Postal Service says suspicious activity or theft should be immediately reported to local law enforcement and postal inspectors at 877-876-2455.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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