Crime

Porch pirates are on the rise this holiday season

Postal inspectors arrested more 1,200 suspects last year for theft, which can carry penalties including a five-year federal prison sentence.

Porch pirates are on the rise this holiday season
David Zalubowski / AP

The number of porch pirates is on the rise as more Americans continue to shop online.

According to SafeWise, more than 3 in 4 Americans have been a victim of package theft in their lifetime. The company estimates 113 million packages were stolen last year, and estimates there will be a 5% increase in thefts this year.

U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Romano said one of the best ways people can prevent thefts from happening is by customizing their delivery on the USPS website. Customers can request packages be delivered at a specific delivery spot, like at a side door rather than the front porch, to prevent thieves from stealing.

"You can also request all your mail and packages to be delivered on the date that you set," Romano said.

He also added that postal inspectors arrested more 1,200 suspects for theft last year, which can carry penalties including a five-year federal prison sentence.

Package theft is currently a felony in eight states. State lawmakers are increasingly starting to propose legislation to deter package thieves.

Despite the increase in stolen packages, most stolen packages aren't reported to law enforcement, making it harder to make an arrest. Of the reported theft cases, less than 10% of package thieves are arrested according to at least one survey. 

Ben Stickle, a criminal justice professor at Middle Tennessee State University, says these types of crimes are hard to investigate.

"It's just not, you know, feasible to spend lots of time and energy into all the thefts that go into this," Stickle said.

Thieves are getting smarter, oftentimes wearing face masks to hide their identity. Police departments across the country are finding new ways to catch porch pirates. Some police departments are teaming up with residents, and planting bait boxes with GPS trackers on doorsteps to try to catch suspected thieves.

According to ADT Security, packages that are stolen should be reported to the police, as well as the specific shipping company like Amazon or FedEx. Consumers can also reach out to their credit card company to see if protections are in place in order to get a refund on a stolen item.

Stop porch pirates with these simple steps
Stop porch pirates with these simple steps

Stop porch pirates with these simple steps

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