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Tips on how to defend yourself against porch pirates this holiday season

Global News logo Global News 2019-12-03 Anne Drewa
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As more and more consumers turn to online shopping this holiday season, package theft is increasingly common.

“The convenience of online shopping and having parcels shipped to your door has created new opportunities for thieves,” said Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin.

Now some Canadian based companies say they have a solution.

Danby Appliances has just introduced its Parcel Guard Smart Mailbox. The company says the anti-theft device is designed to thwart 'porch pirates': thieves who steal packages from your doorstep.

READ MORE: Porch pirate or prank? Langley woman’s package stolen, then returned with apologetic note

“The decision was, 'Let's not just create a drop box that’s secure, let's create something that’s more technologically advanced, that can fight against the porch pirates that are out there right now,'” said Danby’s director of marketing Don Twerdun.

a large white building: Surveillance video of a package theft taking place in Calgary© Courtesy: Tim Muggins Surveillance video of a package theft taking place in Calgary The Parcel Guard system uses technology that works with a smart phone.

“It’s super secure in the fact that you have motion detection, video recording, and at the same time, there is an alarm inside," said Twerdun.

"So if anyone tries to unplug the unit and runs away with it a car alarm will go off."

Twerdun added that the device can also be secured and bolted to the ground.

READ MORE: 10 tips to avoid being scammed shopping online this holiday season 

A recent survey by FedEx discovered package delivery theft is a bigger problem in Canada than first thought.

An online survey of 1,500 Canadians found one in four people has had a package stolen.

It’s the reason why major couriers are providing more solutions to protect packages. Many companies like FedEx, UPS and Amazon allow customers to choose a retail location in their surrounding area to pick up packages.

In most cases, customers can also track their packages.

"If you get a tracking number and you are expecting to receive a package that day, jump online and look at what the delivery company or online merchant offers you and have that package redirected,” said FedEx Canada’s senior communications specialist James Anderson.

READ MORE: Survey finds a ‘surprising’ number of Canadians have been targeted by porch pirates

Canada Post suggests customers check which shipping options are available from the retailer and to read the shipping policy before you buy.

Some retailers also offer the option of “safe dropping” if the homeowner isn’t home to receive the package.

Canada Post says it will leave the package in a safe area and will only make a safe drop if there is a safe place that is sheltered from weather and cannot be seen by passers-by.  The parcel does not require a signature, however.

Customers can also sign-up for FlexDelivery – a free service offered by Canada Post where customers can choose from over 6,100 post offices for parcel pickup.

READ MORE: From delivery man to porch pirate: Vancouver resident says package stolen by driver 

Other Canada Post tips include tracking your package after you buy it using the Canada Post app, which offers the option of changing the delivery location with the “Deliver Preference” on some parcels.

Customers can also sign up for push notifications that indicate “out for delivery” via email.

So what should you do if your package is stolen?

Canada Post says if a customer feels their parcel is lost or stolen, they should contact Canada Post’s customer service (1-800-267-1177).

The agency says customers should also contact the sender to begin their claim for a refund or have the parcel sent to them again.

It’s also recommended you report the stolen package to local police.

For couriers like FEDEx, the company also urges customers to file a police report and contact the sender.

You can also call the courier company directly.

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