Police Warn Residents of ‘Porch Pirates' During Holidays

As the busy holiday shopping season approaches, police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are putting out a warning due to a spike in package thefts. They are providing tips to prevent it and urging residents to be vigilant when it comes to deliveries.

Police said 115 packages have been swiped in the first 10 months of 2018. The number of thefts has gone up 47 percent from the same time frame during 2017, when it was on the decline. This year's spike is up just 6 percent from 2016.

Police also released a heat map, showing where the thefts are happening. The majority of them have been reported in the Port and Inman neighborhoods.

"It honestly made me feel a bit insecure and also really frustrated because I was really looking forward to the item I purchased," Ann Phillip of Cambridge said.

Police also conducted a survey on Nextdoor this week that found 30 percent of Cambridge residents have experienced package thefts.

"We also know only 4 percent of those people reported the theft to Cambridge PD," Deputy Jack Albert said. "We want to know about it so we can help prevent it."

Last year, Camridge Police set up a sting operation involving a box with a GPS tracking device to crack down on the crime. There is no word on whether or not they will do that again this year, but Albert said they do plan on directing more patrols to the neighborhoods known to be hot spots.

Police also offered the following tips for residents to protect their packages: 

  • Request the delivery of package(s) via a signature to ensure the package will not be left on the front steps or foyer
  • Track your packages online, so you have a better idea when it is scheduled to arrive, and/or sign up for delivery alert notifications.
  • With the United States Postal Service delivering packages seven days a week through the holidays, request that your packages arrive on a weekend day, if you plan on being home. 
  • If you’re going away to travel, place a hold on your package until you return to keep your parcel safe.
  • Have your packages delivered to your work address or to a neighborhood friend or family member who would be home, in the event that you are not.
  • Consider installing a security camera or utilizing lockboxes that provide access codes to delivery companies.
  • If you’re suspicious or have experienced this type of activity, report it to the Cambridge Police Department immediately by calling 617-349-3300 even if you have reported it to Postal Service.
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