police chief

Holiday Shipping: Beware of Porch Pirates

A home surveillance system may catch a thief in the act, but there are other ways you can protect your packages.

Porch pirates: Sightings are becoming more common as more people invest in home surveillance systems, and police want you to take steps to protect your purchases during the busy season.

"It'll send you a notification of something occurring in your neighborhood or in your town,” said police Chief Edward Stephens.

Earlier this year, Wolcott police teamed up with Ring to provide the neighbors app allowing residents to share their footage of crimes in action. Since them, the chief said it's been successful.

"We were able to tie two people into a couple of burglaries,” said Stephens.

Stephens said the department is gearing up for the busy holiday shipping season.

"Unfortunately, I know we're going to see these types of problems with crimes people see these because this is the season where people are going to get a lot of packages delivered,” Stephens said.

Right now, the town hasn't had any reported porch pirates. But if it does happen, "there are many people in town that have ring devices that are part of the Wolcott ring neighborhood,” said Stephens.

Wolcott neighbor Jeffrey Panasci gets packages delivered to his home all the time.

"It's become so convenient to click a button and in two days, free delivery and it's on your doorstep. It's so convenient,” said Jeffrey Panasci. "We never really think about it. It's never happened here yet, stuff is delivered here all the time. Even if it needs a signature, sometimes we don't even bother."

According to insurance experts, millions of holiday packages have been reportedly stolen right off of door steps last year.

Stephens said a surveillance system doesn't have to be the only line of defense.

"If you're not going to be home, let's say and the packages are supposed to be delivered, let's say, during the daytime and you're going to be working, have that package sent to a friend's house who is going to be home. Maybe, a parent, maybe your own workplace,” he suggested.

Over at Sandy's TV and Appliance in Wolcott, owner Sandy Marino is doing more than just fixing and delivering products. He’s spreading a little holiday cheer in a different way.

"People can have their packages sent here to our store in a safe location. So, they don't get stolen off their porch,” Marino said.

With the reported increase of holiday packages stolen, Marino listed his business address as a safe location for people to ship them to.

"They've been coming in and picking up their packages. I do ask for ID when they come in, just to make sure that it's them picking the package up,” said Marino.

Here's how it works: Mail the package to yourself, then add care of and name of the business, followed by the business address, then track the package.

"We keep them behind a desk, labeled obviously. And I tell people when we posted it, to…uh…give me a call and let me know when it's coming,” said Marino. “So, this gives us an opportunity to look out for it.”

Marino wants you and your packages to be safe this holiday season. “It’s very simple for me to do because I'm getting packages delivered all the time with my business. So, it's just a matter of another one coming in."

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