Northeast Ohio residents hit by thieves stealing packages off porches

Multiple cities hit by porch thieves
Posted at 10:58 PM, Nov 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 08:39:03-05

Several cities have already reported some early Christmas deliveries are being intercepted by thieves stealing packages off of front porches.

Police report porch thefts in Shaker Heights, Solon and University Heights.

Nate Kelmes told News 5 two packages were stolen from the front porch of his University Heights home on November 21, and the incident was caught on security camera.

"I checked the security cameras on the house and there I saw it, someone who grabbed the packages off the porch," said Kelmes.

"Have the packages delivered to the back porch, back door, garage. Somewhere out of the way, but not in front of the house."

David Van Allen with the U.S. Postal Service said shoppers need to keep close track of their deliveries so packages aren't sitting on the front porch for an extended period of time.

Van Allen suggested using delivery confirmation and the postal service app that allows shoppers to track a package all the way to their door.

USPS also has a new service.

"USPS Package Intercept is what it's called. It's a service we provide, where you can actually change in transit where your package is going when you know it's coming," said Van Allen.

Van Allen and the postal service also added the following advice:

1. Avoid sending cash by mail.
Checks and money orders are safer than cash and may be cancelled or reissued in the event of theft.

2. 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 front porches for any length of time.

3. Consider an alternate shipping address.
Customers can arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day or get packages delivered at work, if permitted.

4. Change the package’s address—while it’s in transit!
Customers who know they won’t be home when their package is delivered can try USPS Package Intercept. Prior to delivery, most domestic package shipments can be redirected back to the sender, to a new address or to the Post Office to be held for pickup.

5. Customize the delivery.
If the package doesn’t fit in the mail box and the customer won’t be home to receive it, they can provide delivery instructions online and authorize their carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit, enter tracking number and select Delivery Instructions. Customers can also request the package be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.

6. Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup.
When shipping packages, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipient can collect the package 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.

7. Going out of town? Hold mail at the 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 local Post Office until they return.

8. Secure the shipment using USPS Signature Services.
Signature Services help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.

9. Choose the most secure form 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.

10. P.O. Boxes might be the answer.
Customers concerned about the security of their mail can consider renting a Post Office Box at their local Post Office.  The mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing customers to retrieve mail on their schedule.