Shoplifting and car burglaries seem as evergreen as a Douglas fir, year-round crimes of opportunity that comprise the run-of-the-mill casework done by local police agencies.
But this time of year, package theft gets added to the list of crimes that keep police busy. While people are at work or out shopping for even more gifts, police say others may see unguarded packages on doorsteps as an opportunity.
By late November, Palm Bay had seen its first package theft. In the middle of the afternoon, police got a call about a package being stolen from a front porch near Malabar Road. Police suspect a juvenile caught on camera by the victims may have been the culprit.
A recent survey showed that close to a third of all shoppers have had a package stolen, including 26 percent of people who live in suburban areas like Brevard County.
Several agencies around the county expect more of the same as Christmas approaches and deliveries ramp up. Officials from Melbourne, Cocoa and Palm Bay said that they keep an eye out around the holidays.
Damien Kraebel, a postal inspector with the U.S. Postal Service, is a federal law enforcement official akin to FBI and DEA agents. He says it’s common for package thefts to go up around the holidays as opportunities proliferate.
“I would say it’s more of an issue” around the holidays, Kraebel said. “There are more instances of packages being stolen.
Postal workers are trained to look for tell-tale signs, especially if they’re being followed by someone looking for a vulnerable delivery.
Even though the amount of packages being stolen does go up this time of year, Kraebel said that the overall number remains low and that USPS is “more vigilant about the issue.”
In Cocoa, police haven’t yet seen a spike in package theft. But spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said as school lets out this week, officers will be braced for car break-ins and thefts from teenagers with too much time on their hands.
Law enforcement and postal personnel advise anyone expecting a shipment to have packages dropped off at work or with a trusted neighbor. People can even have their packages held at the post office to be picked up, Kraebel said.
The easiest way to keep a package from being stolen? Tracking the shipment online and being home for delivery.
Preventing package theft
– Have packages delivered to a neighbor.
– Be home to sign for packages when they come.
– Pick up deliveries directly from the post office.
Contact Vazquez at firstname.lastname@example.org, 321-917-7491 or on Twitter @tyler_vazquez.
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