Mentor police unveil new weapon against ‘porch pirates’ during online holiday shopping surge

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MENTOR, Ohio (WJW) – Even on snowy days, packages are still being delivered outside your front door as many of us rely on online shopping for the holidays this year.

And while those virtual purchases may be easier and safer than going to the store, it does create an intriguing scenario for criminals.

Mentor Police Captain Mike Majernik says, “We always see an increase with this type of theft.”

Americans spend an average of $222 a month on e-commerce purchases.

A new survey conducted by SWNS Digital found the following:

  • 64% of Americans are worried about holiday packages sent to loved ones being stolen by porch pirates.
  • The average victim has lost more than $175 dollars in stolen packages and has had three packages stolen during the quarantine.
  • 52% of people plan to spend more online this year than in the past.
  • Almost half of the folks polled would spend twice the price for something in-store if it meant not having to worry about it arriving safely at their home.

“It’s a crime of opportunity with obviously these packages being delivered to porches,” Majernik added. And thieves often follow delivery trucks or cruise around a neighborhood, looking for an attractive target.

Mentor police announced the formation of a special undercover detail, with undercover officers working throughout city neighborhoods in unmarked vehicles, using surveillance equipment and bait boxes.

“They’re watching for suspicious people. Obviously they’re watching delivery trucks to make sure nobody’s running up immediately after a delivery. And we have packages placed out there, bait packages, that look like any other package,” said Majernik.

Pre-pandemic, the department says its successful ‘Retail Theft Detail’ led to a significant decrease in retail theft and more arrests.

And now, this new weapon is ensuring this holiday shopping season remains jolly and bright, and free of crime.

Police also tell residents, if you see something, say something.

And for those with surveillance cameras to join, “Operation Scram,” a secured database that allows officers to spot cameras on a map near a crime scene, to get a description of a suspect or their vehicle.

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