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Preventing package theft during holiday season

We're heading into the heart of holiday shipping season, and "porch pirates" are a common problem.

They're making a list and checking it twice; Police say porch pirates have their calendars marked for the popular online holiday shopping days that are just about to start up.

"When people start buying more packages online, around Thanksgiving time, holiday season, we're going to see a lot more increases in package theft, just due to the sheer volume of sheer packages coming to the door,” Urbana Police Officer Bryan Fink said. “Package theft is a thing and it occurs all year round, but we do see increases throughout the holiday season."

Police say you need to watch closely during the busiest online shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

So what makes your packages a target?

"If someone's at work and their package is delivered early in the morning, then that package is sitting out for a long period of time,” Fink said. “There's more of a chance that it could be susceptible to package theft.

And unless you have surveillance cameras or someone saw the crime being committed, tracking down the suspect can be difficult. That's why it's best to try and prevent package theft in the first place.

"You have choices when you order something of what different type of delivery that you want to use,” Springfield Post Office customer relations specialist Sue Litterly said. “Priority mail, something with a signature and mailers can use those choices. And if you get a signature of course you know you would need to get that when your carrier knocks at your door or come and pick up your package at the post office."

Another option is having your package left with a neighbor. Whatever you decide, experts say you don't want your package just sitting there.

"Monitor it. If your package is going to be delivered at 1 p.m. during the day, x amount of time, just try to be home,” Fink said. “Do your best to be conscientious and to be home that day."

New this year the post office has its own website Informed Delivery: https://informeddelivery.usps.com , where you can manage any of your deliveries coming from different senders all in one place.

"You're able to look at each of those packages and let us know what you want us to do with those,” Litterly said. “You can elect to pick it up at the post office, you can elect to have it delivered to an alternate address. Maybe your office or a neighbor."

The police and post office ask that if you do see any suspicious behavior this holiday season, including cars following mail trucks or someone taking packages off porches, they ask that you do your best to get a physical description of the person and report it to police immediately.

Finally, if your work schedule doesn't allow you to get to the post office during normal business hours, you might consider getting a P.O. box for the holiday season. Most of the time post offices will have extended hours when you can get in to pick those deliveries up.

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