'Porch pirates' hijack holiday packages
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
It's expected to be a record-breaking holiday season for deliveries.
The United States Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 850 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
UPS plans to deliver 750 million and FedEx will drop off up to 400 million packages.
All those deliveries are bringing out thieves looking to make a quick getaway with your shipments.
Pensacola Police Department (PPD) Public Information Officer Mike Wood said this type of crime is not exclusive to the city of Pensacola or Northwest Florida.
He said these thefts are seen across the country.
For instance, home surveillance cameras have caught them red-handed.
Men and women, so-called "porch pirates", can be seen walking up to homes and quickly getting away with boxes and other goods.
Those packages left by delivery companies in front of people's homes.
Wood said crimes like these spike during the holiday season.
"The bad guys know that and if they spot a delivery truck in a neighborhood that's sort of like Santa Claus to them and they can follow that truck around or wait until that truck leaves the neighborhood and just start looking at front porches and see if there's a package there," Wood said.
On Wednesday, PPD responded to an alleged "porch pirate" in the act after a neighbor noticed something that looked suspicious.
"We were able to go over there and locate the vehicle and it turns out it was an expected pickup which is a great thing to find out but we want neighbors to be nosey," Wood said. "There's nothing wrong with that. We want everybody to pay attention to what's going on around their home and their neighbor's home."
Channel 3's David Gonzalez drove around Pensacola to do just that.
Within minutes of driving around Pensacola, Gonzalez spotted boxes and packages out in the open just sitting in front of several homes.
Gonzalez wanted to be a good neighbor so he went up to a few of them to let them know they had a delivery.
However, no one answered and the packages were left where he found them.
Wood said there are things you can do to plan ahead.
"What we like people to do is have the packages delivered to their place where they work or to a neighbors house that's going to be home that can sign for it and keep it secure," Wood said.
He said that would eliminate the threat or temptation of would-be thieves.
The consequences for stealing packages off people's property depends on the value of what's stolen.
Wood said someone can easily be charged with a felony.
If this becomes a big problem PPD can set up bait packages with GPS tracking devices to catch thieves in the act.