CLEVELAND — Your Cyber Monday orders are on the way, but you aren’t the only one on the lookout for deliveries to arrive at your doorstep.
Officials are warning porch thefts may only get worse as online shopping habits continue to break records during the pandemic. They’re now urging you to be on high alert as Wednesday, Dec. 2 marks National Package Protection day.
One in five Americans is a victim of porch pirates. According to a Finder.com survey, porch pirates stole more than $5 billion worth of packages last year. That's about $150 in losses for an average person.
“This year due to the COVID virus we're expecting it to be more ramped up than ever,” said Captain Mike Majernik, of the Mentor Police Department.
Now Mentor police are fighting back. Officers there are taking a new approach, hoping to stop porch pirates through its new special undercover unit.
And they're pulling out all the stops.
Officers will use unmarked vehicles, surveillance equipment and decoy packages that actually have GPS tracking units to lead them straight to thieves.
“We just want to make sure that the criminals stay out of Mentor we're going to get you if you come out here.”
But police can't fight off porch pirates alone. They're asking residents to step up. Experts say knowing when your package delivery date is the first step.
“Don't order and be gone out of town for a couple of days when you are waiting for packages to arrive,” said Lori Torres, CEO Parcel Pending.
You may even ask your neighbors to hold onto your packages while you're away. If they’re not so trusting, have it delivered to a secure locker, P.O. Box or have the retailer hold onto your things until you can pick them up.
“Now it's contact-free, you get your items. It's safe and secure and you can get it online,” Torres said.
Porch pirates can face several different charges and can land themselves behind bars for at least six months in some cases. If they steal something over one-thousand dollars it becomes felony theft.