It's getting to be the most wonderful time of the year -- especially for doorstep package thieves.
An estimated $107 billion will be spent on online sales this year, up about 14 percent from last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks shopping trends.
The staggering number poses a lucrative opportunity for thieves, who often take advantage of the easy-to-swipe packages on shoppers' front porches this time of year.
Fort Worth hasn't seen an uptick in package thefts yet, police spokesman Tracy Carter said.
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But earlier this month, investigators were searching for a thief who had taken several packages from homes in the 3800 block of Kimbo Road and the 1500 block of Bluebonnet Drive, in north Fort Worth.
In a video of one theft, the suspect casually strolled up the sidewalk of a home, hands in his pocket, opened a front glass door and grabbed a package.
Shoppers have several options for preventing package theft:
- Schedule a delivery time for when you know you'll be home and require a signature for couriers to leave a package.
- Amazon, FedEx and UPS offer locker services, allowing you to ship your orders to secure self-service lockers near your home. The lockers are often outside gas stations at convenience stores. For instance, Amazon has lockers at least 20 locations across Tarrant County, such as a QuikTrip and 7-Eleven and most are open 24 hours a day. Whole Foods stores in Arlington and Colleyville also feature Amazon lockers -- the company acquired the grocery chain this year. When your package arrives at the locker, Amazon will email you a bar code, which you can use to pick up the order. To find a locker near you, go to www.amazon.com/findalocker.
- Amazon also offers a new service for Prime members: "Key," which allows homeowners to grant package couriers (and whomever else they choose) access to their home. The product features the Amazon Cloud Cam, an indoor security camera, and a smart-lock system. One downside? Key is priced at $249.99.
- Ring, a doorbell with an attached video camera, is another security option. Like other front-porch cameras, it might not prevent a theft but it will provide police with good evidence of who stole your package.
- Several products are designed just for packages placed at a doorstep. The iBin is a weatherproof lock box that delivery workers can drop packages in. The Package Guard is round device about the size of a Frisbee. When a package is placed on it, the Package Guard sends a text or an email to the customer, notifying them of the package’s arrival. If someone tries to steal the package, the Package Guard sounds off a loud alarm similar to a car alarm.
- Consider using another address if you are going to have multiple packages delivered during this shopping season. Your neighbor’s or work address are good alternatives.