As we enter the holidays during a pandemic, local law enforcement officials are reminding residents that criminals may see the increased shipping the pandemic will bring as an invitation to steal packages from doorsteps.
Law enforcement expects thefts of packages to be a bigger problem this year due in part to COVID-19, and Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan offers some valuable tips to avoid porch piracy.
“We know that due to the Pandemic, there will be an increase in the number of packages delivered to your home. These may be left unattended for hours, leaving them vulnerable to possibly being stolen,” Manahan said “We encourage all of our residents to invest in security systems or camera doorbells. These devices will not prevent crimes, but it does help during investigations and allows homeowners to keep an eye on their packages until they can return home to bring them inside.”
Additional tips for package delivery include:
- If you order something online, sign up for delivery alerts/pick up packages immediately. If allowed, have your packages delivered to your work.
- Have your package delivered to the home of a relative or friend that you know will be home.
- Use ship-to-store options
- Request packages be signed for or ask the carrier to place the package somewhere out of open view.
“We hope that our community remembers to support our local businesses this year. These business owners are our neighbors, friends, and a big part of our community. We want the community to feel safe shopping local still and remember social distancing measures,” said Manahan.
Manahan also offers some tips for those who plan to go out shopping this year.
- Never, ever leave your vehicle unlocked. Do not leave anything in plain sight inside your vehicle. Park in a well-lit area when shopping and pay attention to your surroundings walking to and from your vehicle.
- Place all purchased items in the trunk and take them home as soon as possible.
- Have your keys ready to open your car door when returning to your vehicle, and immediately lock your car doors upon entering your vehicle.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Trust your instincts. There is safety in numbers. Walk to the parking lot area with other shoppers.
- Protect your purse or wallet at all times. Never leave these items unattended in a shopping cart, vehicle, or baby stroller. Don’t carry large sums of cash or extra credit/debit cards. Keep a master list in a safe place at your home of all credit/debit cards and the credit card companies’ contact number if your cards are lost or stolen.
- Citizens should also be cautious when it comes to home or business security during the holiday season. Keep your doors and windows locked. If you have an alarm system, use it. Don’t leave empty boxes on trash piles, as they advertise items that may be inside your home.
Additional holiday safety tips can be found at the National Safety Council website at www.nsc.org/holiday-safety-tips.
The police chief also said crime prevention is a two-way street between law enforcement and the community. Those who are willing to provide tips to law enforcement have the option to remain anonymous.
When providing information about criminal activity, please be as detailed as possible. Give as much information about the crime, such as the people involved, the location, the time and date the crime occurred, and any other information to help solve the crime effectively.