Don’t let ‘porch pirates’ ruin your holiday season
Just as surely as Santa is coming, Grinches are waiting to spoil your Christmas cheer by stealing your holiday mail and packages.
It’s already happening on the Mississippi Coast. Packages left on front porches in Jackson County’s St. Andrews subdivision disappeared earlier this month, leading to the arrest of a man who did the same thing two years ago.
Crime trends show people will steal from your mailbox or your front porch if they want to, even in broad daylight.
So how can you protect your holiday mail and your packages?
The Postal Inspection Service, which handles law enforcement for the U.S. Postal Service, provides these 10 tips.
- 1. Avoid sending cash by mail. Checks or money orders are safer and can be canceled or reissued if stolen.
- 2. Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Bring your delivered mail or packages inside promptly.
- 3. Consider an alternate shipping address. Arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are at home during the day or have packages delivered to your job if possible.
- 4. Change a package’s address while it’s in transit. If you know you won’t be home when a package is delivered, try USPS Package Intercept. Most packages can be held at the Post Office for pickup, sent to a new address or returned to the sender.
- 5. Customize the delivery. If a package won’t fit in the mailbox and you won’t be home when it arrives, provide delivery instructions online.
- 6. Ship using Hold For Pickup. When shipping packages, you can choose this option or redirect incoming packages by using USPS Package Intercept.
- 7. Going out of town? Tell your Post Office to hold your mail if it’s more than a few days.
- 8. Secure your shipment using USPS Signature Services. This makes sure a package is delivered to the right hands.
- 9. Choose the most secure form of delivery. For most valuable packages, use the registered mail service, which documents the chain of custody.
- 10. A P.O. box might be the right answer. If you’re concerned about the security of your mail, consider renting a box at your local Post Office. Most lobbies are open around the clock, allowing customers to pickup their mail with a key or combination.
If you see an unfamiliar vehicle that appears to be following a USPS truck, or suspicious persons around mail boxes or front doors, call your local police. And then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.
Neighbors looking out for neighbors is how Jason Robert Phillips was arrested in Jackson County in 2015 and on Dec. 7.
Two years ago, a resident of Gulf Park Estates reported seeing a man steal a package from a front porch. Phillips, 34, was convicted on related thefts.
Most recently, a surveillance camera allegedly filmed Phillips as he stole packages from a home in St. Andrews, according to the Jackson County sheriff.