Experts Suggest You Be Vigilant Making Sure Someone Is Home When Holiday Gifts Are Being Delivered By UPS, Other Services

OSSINING, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A convenience for you represents a crime of opportunity for some. That’s why police across our area are warning about so-called “porch pirates.”

They grab and run with packages left at your front door, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.

Moments after a drop off on Tavano Drive in Ossining last week, there was a rip off. It was a rapid grab and go for a package thief.

“We’re advising all consumers in Westchester County to be vigilant with all packages delivered to your home. There’s no question if you look at the data, the ‘porch pirate’ phenomenon is increasing,” said Jim Maisano, the county’s consumer affairs director.

MOREVIDEO: Thief Waves To Security Camera Before Stealing Package From Patchogue Porch

package A Warning This Holiday Season: Beware Of Porch Pirates

Avoid heartbreak this holiday season by making sure someone is home on the day your holiday packages are supposed to be delivered. (Photo: CBS2)

It’s happening all over.

Police in Darien, Connecticut, are looking for a man wanted for porch piracy, and for fans of Dr. Seuss, last year in Yorktown one guy made like the Grinch cleaning out the home of Cindy Lou Who, grabbing everything off a porch in the Mohegan Lake neighborhood.

“It’s sad commentary. People are stealing gifts from families, but there’s lots of ways to protect yourself,” Maisano said.

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He said it makes sense to set alerts on your smartphone to track package deliveries. Many shippers offer that option. But there are low-tech safeguards, too, like arranging for delivery to a trusted neighbor who usually has someone at home, or instructing the delivery service to leave packages on the side or back of your home.

“There’s a notion the porch pirates want to make a quick steal, run up the steps, grab it and go. It’s harder to take it from around the house,” Maisano said.

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Both UPS and Amazon offer secure locker delivery. Packages are opened with a code that is texted or emailed.

“You physically go to that location, go to the locker, press in that one-time code, take your package out,” technology expert Michael Garfield said.

Finally, experts told CBS2’s Aiello doorbells with surveillance cameras offer some deterrence — and capture evidence — but clearly don’t discourage a determined porch pirate.

In some parts of the country, police are catching porch pirates using “bait packages.” They have GPS units hidden inside, so cops can track whoever takes them.