RYE BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The approaching holiday season has police getting ready for a surge in package thefts.

It’s a problem every year — items stolen right off doorsteps and lobbies.

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“I try to schedule deliveries if i can when i know I’ll be home, but you never know,” Kristen Lalla, of White Plains, told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. “Fortunately, I have not been a victim of a porch pirate yet.”

But many have been victimized. The crimes are often captured on surveillance video.

“People just running onto porches, taking packages and running off with them,” described Junior Haye, of Ossining.

By one estimate, more than 20 million Americans have had packages stolen from their homes before they could even open them.

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“You’re expecting things to show up on time. And then if they’re not there, that’s upsetting,” Lalla said.

Police say there are some simple ways to foil “porch pirates,” including instructing delivery services to leave packages at a side or rear door

“It’s a crime of opportunity, so if the opportunity is not there because the package is out of sight, then that’s always a good way to go,” said Rye Brook police Chief Gregory Austin.

Other suggestions:
* Require that someone sign for a package on delivery
* Have packages delivered to your work site or a neighbor
* Consider using a service such as Amazon Locker — safe locations for free pickup of packages.

In some parts of the country, “porch pirates” are such a menace police are getting creative — and a little sneaky — to catch them in the act. Departments in California and Florida are catching thieves with bait packages that contain GPS tracking devices in them. If stolen, they can be tracked and located.

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A suspected package thief was arrested in Hoboken, New Jersey, this week. An off-duty cop says he spotted 29-year-old Daniel Sosa stealing packages and took him into custody.