As Christmas approaches, many Summit County residents could expect an influx of parcels ahead of the holidays.
Although Summit County law enforcement officials have said package theft is not common in the area, they have a variety of tips to ensure deliveries arrive safe and sound.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman James Boxrud said mail theft is a federal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison. He said any customer who believes they have been the victim of mail theft should report it to the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
Silverthorne Police Department Chief John Minor said that since the town has so many full-time residents year-round, “neighbors watching over neighbors is one of our best prevention techniques.”
Minor added that several crimes have been averted using technology, which he said has become “relatively inexpensive” and “easy to deploy,” including cameras.
“It’s a very effective tool, and probably a great Christmas present,” Minor wrote in an email. “… Several people have relayed information live to our agents via a dispatch regarding suspicious activity around their homes and properties. “
In a statement, UPS officials agreed that package theft is quite rare, and the increased presence of video doorbells and other security equipment has led to increased attention when an incident occurs.
Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said no package theft has been reported to his office so far this season.
Prevention tips from FitzSimons and other law enforcement officials include subscribing to available delivery alerts, providing specific delivery instructions, installing outdoor security camera systems, requesting signing or sending the package to work, family, friends or neighbors.
Dillon Police Department Chief Cale Osborn said while national figures on package theft may be alarming, his office has also had no reports of package theft this holiday season. He said that the fact that most people in the county do not receive door-to-door mail service could be partly responsible for the low number of people in the county.
Osborn also recommended insuring packages where possible, making sure someone is at home when it is time for delivery, or using specialized storefronts as a shipping destination, like The UPS Store.
Door-to-door deliveries are still an option in Summit County for people with items shipped via FedEx or UPS. FedEx spokeswoman Shannon Davis said requesting a holiday suspension for door-to-door deliveries is also a great option, allowing FedEx to hold a package for up to 14 days. She said any unattended delivery creates an opportunity for packages to be stolen before the resident picks them up.
“The sheer volume of shipments expected this holiday season may create increased opportunities for so-called ‘porch pirates’,” Davis wrote in an email.