Fort Worth

Online holiday shopping puts packages at risk of theft

With more online shopping comes more home deliveries, an enticement for thieves.
With more online shopping comes more home deliveries, an enticement for thieves. AP archives

As online shopping grows, so does the threat of package thefts, and police are urging residents to take precautions.

On Black Friday, for example, more people shopped online than did in brick-and-mortar stores for big sales to begin the Christmas shopping season, according to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation.

And with Christmas just two weeks away, shopping from the convenience of home means more deliveries, oftentimes leaving packages unattended on front porches, making the picking ripe for thieves.

The issue is a hot topic among neighborhood online communities and police, who say these crimes always increase during the holiday shopping season, both for incoming and outgoing packages.

On Nextdoor, these message were recently posted:

▪ Postwoman ask me to pass on this message. Those putting packages in your mailbox to be PICKED UP by USPS do not put up your flag. The flag is signaling thieves a package is inside. She said to just put your package in your box and she will try to check ALL boxes. Hope none of you get packages stolen!

▪ It would appear that package thefts have become a significant issue in our neighborhood. Given the holiday shopping season is upon us and many of us will expect to receive packages, I can only assume that the incidence of package theft will only rise.

Arlington residents have reported a few of these incidents recently, said Sgt. Paul Rodriguez, but there doesn’t appear to be a pattern. Arlington police officers are increasing their visibility in neighborhoods during the holidays, and they’re reminding residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, including package thefts.

"If you see something unusual, such as a vehicle stopping and people going up to doors, give us a call," Rodriguez said. "If you see something that doesn’t look right, let us investigate."

Some thefts caught on camera

In Fort Worth, at least suspects have been caught on camera.

Fort Worth police released security camera video of one package being stolen in the 3600 block of Westcliff Road South, near TCU.

The video shows a woman walking onto the porch holding a cloth. She placed it over a package and moved it behind a column. She waited about 30 seconds before lifting the package and walking away with it.

In Southlake, police are also seeking a suspect who walked up to the front of a house and stole several packages from the porch.

The security video shows a car drive by slowly and return and park in front of the home in the 2100 block of Cheyenne Park Lane. A man got out and stole the packages quickly and drove off in a car, possibly a gray or silver Honda Fit, according to the Southlake Police Department.

Tips for safe delivery

There are many other ways you can help prevent your packages from being stolen:

▪ Arrange for packages to be delivered somewhere they can be received in person. This may be a neighbor or friend, or, if allowed by your employer, at your workplace.

▪ Request that the shipper require a signature confirmation or hold your package at their pickup facility for you to retrieve in person.

▪ If purchasing online from a large retailer, request that the package be shipped to the nearest store for pickup.

▪ Provide delivery instructions to the shipper so that packages can be left in a location out of sight, such as behind a fence.

▪ Sign up for delivery alerts from the shipper to stay updated.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST