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How to outsmart the Porch Pirates this holiday season

Posted: 4:09 PM, Dec 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-11 12:37:34Z

Some residents are angry and concerned about so-called 'porch pirates' lurking about this holiday season.

"It makes me angry, it makes me angry because people work hard for their money," said Pat Walker, who lives in Cleveland.

Last week, a man was caught on camera stealing a bunch of packages from multiple homes in Strongsville. As police continue investigating, there are things you can do to better protect yourself and outsmart the thieves.

“People just don't care anymore," said Walker.

She says last year someone snatched her table right off her porch.

"I think it's terrible, I think it's a shame," Walker said.

So when it comes to holiday deliveries, she understands why many are concerned.

“For them to take somebody else's gifts that they thought so kindly to of to get for somebody else this season," Walker said.

“And for you to just come on my porch and still my stuff, that's upsetting," she said.

But now there are several ways to outsmart these porch pirates.

"A customer can sign up for a new program we have which is called informed delivery," said Alicia Rauckhorst, The Marketing Manager for the US Postal Service in Northern Ohio.

The U.S. Postal Service just launched that informed delivery service this year. Through their website, you can see exactly where your package was scanned, track it the whole way and preview mail online before it even comes.

"It was just a great way to also keep information in front of customers," she said.

You can give instructions on an alternative spot to for USPS to deliver like an out of sight patio or your neighbor's home.

“It's free of charge, it's very easy, and it's a great way to manage your mail and packages," Rauckhorst said.

Other delivery services like the UPS offers something similar called "My Choice,” giving customers the option to meet up with local business as they're out and about running errands.

“I don't know that there's anything that you can absolutely do, right to do anyone, but I think that those extra measures absolutely do help," said Rauckhorst.

Amazon and FedEx are also thinking outside the box. Amazon is allowing people to use special 'amazon lockers' for delivered items, though it is not free of charge.

Someone like Walker says she feels most comforted just having everything sent to her P.O Box, which is a pretty strong deterrent.

“My mail comes here and that way I don't have to worry about it one way or the other," Walker said.

The postal service said December 20 is the recommended last day to get your packages delivered by Christmas.

After that, it’s best to use priority mail express.

Here are some other ways UPS suggests to help keep you and your packages protected:

  • Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Just as wallets and purses shouldn’t be left on the front seat of an unlocked car overnight, mail and packages shouldn’t be left uncollected in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.
  • Going out of town? Hold mail at a local Post Office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the customer’s local Post Office until they return.
  • Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping a package, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipient can collect the packages at their local Post Office. For customers receiving packages, they can redirect incoming packages to their local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.
  • Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and the customer won’t be home to receive it, the customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit usps.com, enter the tracking number and select Delivery Instructions.
  • Secure the shipment using USPS Special Services. Signature Confirmation helps ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery. For the most valuable packages, customers can opt for Registered Mail service. Registered Mail receives special handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.