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The porch piracy problem: How to stop thieves from stealing your Amazon packages and other deliveries

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 1/22/2020 By Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland.com
a person holding a sign: Isaac Butler, 42, applies packing tape to the box just before it ships out to a customer at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Etna, Ohio. The facility, which is 850,000 square feet, has 3,500 employees and opened in 2016. © Lisa DeJong Lisa DeJong/Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com/TNS Isaac Butler, 42, applies packing tape to the box just before it ships out to a customer at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Etna, Ohio. The facility, which is 850,000 square feet, has 3,500 employees and opened in 2016.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Porch piracy is on the rise, as the increase in online shopping transforms doorsteps into easy targets for thieves.

More than half of U.S. online shoppers say they’re scared of their packages being stolen, according to a 2019 report by C+R research. More than a third of online shoppers said they have had a package stolen, and more than half knew a victim of package theft, the report showed.

In Northeast Ohio, police chiefs say thieves are stealing packages everywhere.

“It’s no different from Rocky River than Lakewood, Westlake, Mentor, wherever,” Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman said. “Packages get delivered everywhere, so it’s a criminal’s market.”

Online shopping is only growing, making theft an increasing concern.

Online purchases made up about 11 percent of total retail sales in the United States in 2019, up from just over 4 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 16 billion packages are expected to be delivered across the United States this year, up from 11 billion in 2018, according to accounting firm PwC.

Porch piracy is a relatively easy play for criminals. Delivery trucks are everywhere. Thieves can watch the trucks and make the snatch and grab. Who knows what they’ll find: used clothing from eBay or toilet paper from Amazon or an Apple iPhoneX.

Police recommend a few ways to protect your packages:

- Ask that packages be delivered to a back door

- Ask that the package be delivered only after someone signs for it

- Ask a neighbor if they can help. Let them know when you expect a package to be delivered and see if they can grab it for you to keep it safe.

- Have packages delivered to your work address, if you employer allows it.

- Have you package delivered to a storage locker, especially if your package is valuable. Amazon has package pickup locker locations across the region. You also can pick up and drop off packages at its downtown hub. FedEx has pickup and drop off points at Walgreens all over the Cleveland area.

- If you have a video-monitoring service that monitors your front door, like Ring, make sure it’s recording properly

The Rocky River Police Department is one of nearly 400 departments across the country to enter into a partnership with Amazon that allows access to video from community members who use Ring video surveillance doorbells.

Ring’s smartphone app, Neighbors, serves as sort of a digital neighborhood watch that allows anyone to exchange information about neighborhood crime and share other Ring doorbell videos already shared in the app.

Read more on this issue:

Rocky River police among 400 departments in controversial partnership with Amazon for access to Ring video doorbells

Man shoots at neighbors who tried to stop package theft from Cleveland home

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