Preventing package thieves from striking: How to protect your holiday gifts

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JACKSON TWP, Ohio-- Police are reviewing video from a home security camera that shows a woman parking in the homeowner's driveway then casually walking up to the front porch where she pauses for a moment before walking back to her vehicle with packages that had earlier been delivered to the house.

"It's broad daylight. It's the middle of the day. We are in a neighborhood, plenty of people around all of the time; we have a lot of retired neighbors that are always home. I just can't believe that she has the nerve in the middle of the day like that, and I'm sure she didn't expect that there was going to be a camera," said the homeowner, who Fox 8 News agreed not to identify.

The same homeowners believe their camera caught something else that is no coincidence: a black pickup truck closely following a delivery vehicle through their neighborhood.

"I think that they were following the delivery truck and casing out all of the deliveries and keeping track of all of the addresses and where packages are being dropped off and going back later and picking up packages that are still out," the homeowner added.

Jackson Township police said they have had three similar reports filed since November 8.

But with the gift-giving season reaching its peak, the thefts are happening in neighborhoods throughout the country.

Cameras can capture the crime when it happens, but delivery companies and online retailers said there are ways you can protect the deliveries before they get to your door:

  • Having U.S. Postal Service packages delivered to a post office box rather than your address is one option.
  • People shopping online with Amazon can also have packages delivered to a pickup store like the one near the University of Akron.
  • Amazon Prime customers can have the packages delivered in one day. They are sent a bar code which will open the box in which their package is being stored.

"If you know you are going to be in class, you are going to be at work all day, you can have them sent here and pick them up at your convenience. You don't have to worry about theft off of your porch; you don't have to worry about your items being exposed to inclement weather-- snow, ice, rain; whatever it may be," said Cody Mauch.

At Fox 8's request, FedEx has also shared suggestions for helping to make package deliveries more secure:

  • Consider an alternate destination. When you order something online, consider sending the package to your workplace or to a family member, friend or neighbor who is home during the day to accept delivery.
  • Send it to your nearest FedEx Office location. You can have your deliveries sent to the nearest FedEx Office location, and they'll hold it for you for up to five business days. FedEx provides this service at no added cost. If it’s a FedEx Express package, you can also have your package sent to one of their FedEx Express stations. Find the location nearest you, RIGHT HERE.
  • Request a signature. Many packages today are sent without requiring a signature for delivery. If you’re shipping something of high value — or you just want to be sure items aren’t left unattended — you can require a signature for packages to be released. Either the shipper or the recipient can make this request.
  • Request a vacation hold. Taking a holiday trip to visit family or friends? You can request a vacation hold on all shipments for up to 14 days.
  • Ask for a ring. Use FedEx Delivery Manager to let your driver know you want a ring—or a knock. You can leave instructions for drivers to always ring your doorbell or knock on your door when a package is being left. Do you like your packages left behind the big planter or tucked behind the grill beside the back door? Use FedEx Delivery Manager® to leave one-time-only or standing instructions for where you want FedEx to leave your deliveries. You can also let your driver know your instructions by calling 1.800.463.3339.
  • Schedule your delivery. Request to get your delivery on your time, not ours. Pick a delivery time and date that works for you.
  • Redirect your packages even when they’re already on the way. With FedEx Delivery Manager, you’ll be alerted of every FedEx package headed to your home, even if you don’t have the tracking number. If you know you won’t be home and want to send the delivery somewhere else, just redirect it to where you’ll be, or another secure location.

Police also suggest that if you are having a package delivered to your home that you leave lights on to make it appear someone is there, and try to get to your package in a timely manner after it has been delivered.

The longer it stays outside where everyone can see it, the more enticing it is to a thief.