TEMPLE, Texas — With millions of people shopping online and more packages arriving on doorsteps than ever before, police expect more porch thieves than ever before. Killeen Police Department Detective Troy Fulgham confirmed Tuesday that thieves have even been tailing delivery vehicles while looking for loot.
"We've seen a little bit of the people following vans," Fulgham said. "The porch pirate stuff has been going for some time but it has really pickup up during the holiday season. People are ordering from Amazon, Walmart, places like that."
Fulgham said thieves are cruising neighborhoods looking for packages to pick up. He said he knew of at least one case where a car was following an Amazon truck and waiting for them to drop off items. Meanwhile, Amazon Flex driver Erica Williams told 6 News she had seen the same vehicle drive past her multiple times as she was making a delivery for Amazon.
"There have been a few times I have seen cars kind of slow down and watch, drive by and come back," Williams said. "One time in particular I noticed someone was watching so I waited and watched and they drove by again, so I moved the package and texted the customer."
Williams said she now removes the "Amazon Flex" magnets from her vehicle when she makes deliveries during the holidays so she is not shadowed by thieves.
"They would have to be right there to see me delivering," Williams said.
Even with thieves being so persistent, there are still things consumers can do to protect their items and keep them from spending any time in harm's way.
If you can be home
An Amazon spokesperson told 6 News Monday via email that there is an Amazon Estimated Delivery Window of two to four hours to help customers plan their day. Williams said it is possible to place delivery notes on an order that ask the delivery be left with a person at the home or in a specific location that will be safer for the customer. Before having a delivery service bring something to your home, check what options are available with that service.
If you order an item from a store with a nearby location, Detective Fulgham strongly recommends picking up the item curbside at the store rather than having it delivered to your porch.
If you can't be home
Williams and Fulgham also recommended that consumers use Amazon Locker if you have a location nearby so you can pick up the item there at your convenience. If you are using another service or don't have that option, do everything possible to leave the item with a person you can trust to hold it for you. You can have items delivered to your work location or delivered to a neighbor that you know will be home at the time it is delivered.
Temple Police Department Spokesman Cody Weems told 6 News some delivery services will also hold packages at a facility if you request them to do so.
Weems also stressed that people should not leave packages or purchased gifts in their vehicles either as parked vehicles are a common target for local thieves.
Both Fulgham and Weems encouraged citizens to take all possible precautions with their items and to not trust their video doorbell systems to make those packages any safer. Fulgham said mail theft cases do get solved and thieves do get caught, but the items are normally long gone.
"A lot of times people will steal the stuff and will turn around and sell it on a let go or something like that," Fulgham said.
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