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Police: 'Porch pirates' may steal holiday gifts

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: Nov 29 2012 02:02:32 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 28 2012 11:00:00 PM CST

It is the time of year when Christmas packages are being delivered every day, but they may not be safe on your doorstep.

BRISTOL, Va. -

It is the time of year when Christmas packages are being delivered every day, but they may not be safe on your doorstep.

It's called 'porch pirating;' someone comes up to your door step and steals the package that is waiting for you.

We spoke with police and got a few tips on how you can protect your goods. "We have an increase in thefts and break-ins during the holiday season," said Captain Maynard Ratcliff.

Ratcliff tells News 5 people will even steal a package from your doorstep and says the daytime is the worst for it. "For one, anyone that's coming by can see them sitting outside and just decide they want to pick them up and take them," he said.

However, Captain Ratcliff tells us the packages are not the only thing you should be worried about. He says a package sitting at your doorstep all day could be an indicator that you are not home, inviting unwanted attention from burglars.

Therefore, he suggests having the delivery scheduled. "Either get the delivery stopped, or get it postponed until you can be sure you're there to accept it," said Ratcliff.

We spoke with several delivery services over the phone, who gave us a few tips. They said customers should consider having their package sent to their place of work or sent to the delivery store to pick up at your convenience.

You can even request for it to be delivered to a nearby friend or relative, or schedule a time for it to be delivered when you will be home.

Some delivery services even allow you to go to their website and choose exactly where you want your package placed. So you can choose a secret spot, like behind a bush near your front porch.

Captain Ratcliff says everyone should take note. "People get some expensive stuff; cameras, electronics and things like that. You don't want to leave it just sitting outside for anybody to see," he said.

Local resident Billy Morse says he will not take any chances. "I tell my neighbors or I get someone to watch for it," he told us.

We also learned you can change the location of your package while it is still in route to your home.

We spoke with a few police departments in the area and they said so far there have been no reports of thefts of packages, but say it is better to be safe than sorry.