New Jersey police are using fake Amazon boxes, complete with hidden GPS tracking devices, to nab so-called “porch pirates” who steal packages off of porches and doorstops, the Associated Press is reporting.
While the majority of people who order things and have them delivered to them have no problems, there are still thieves about who ply their wares by stealing packages left on the doorsteps of unsuspecting victims. And the problem has gotten bigger over the past few years, which makes sense when you think about it: as more people shop online for the holidays, that means there are more packages for “porch pirates” to pilfer.
In fact, by insurance-industry estimates, 26 million Americans have had holiday gift packages stolen from their porches or doorsteps. That works out to one in 12 Americans falling victim to this type of theft. Amazon, for its part, declined to speculate on how many of its packages are stolen, as did UPS and FedEx.
Regardless, Jersey City cops are having none of that. They’ve employed a “sting” to catch the thieves, and it goes like this: put a dummy Amazon package on a doorstep and just wait for a criminal to fall into the trap.
It only took three minutes, says police Capt. James Crecco.
“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken. We thought it was a mistake at first.”
— Michelle K (@MichelleKemp719) December 11, 2018
It’s not just GPS and police stings that have caught the porch pirates: Jersey City police say that they’ve also nabbed the thieves through the more old-fashioned method of reviewing security camera footage. It seems that criminals either forget that a lot of homes have security cameras, or they think they’ll get away with it.
‘KIDS STUFF’: Authorities in Hillsborough County, Florida, are searching for a porch pirate tag team, with the suspects caught on cameras stealing holiday packages from at least two doorsteps and taking off in a Volvo SUV. https://t.co/S4EuQH9l8h pic.twitter.com/rfmNn587BO
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) December 11, 2018
One Massachusetts woman helped cops even further by covering a thief in glitter. How did she pull that off? By putting out a fake package that was actually a disguised glitter bomb, as the Patriot Ledger reports.
“There was a glitter everywhere.”
Unfortunately, the Massachusetts thief hasn’t been caught – yet.
Meanwhile, Digital Trends provides some points to protect your packages against porch piracy, and they don’t involve glitter bombs, police surveillance, or GPS devices. Your best option is to buy a surveillance system of your own (some can be had for as little as less than a hundred dollars) and to post a sign that warns thieves they’re on camera.
Failing that, light up your porch with as much lighting as possible – thieves prefer to work in the dark.
And the best defense of them all against porch pirates? Diligent neighbors who will keep an eye on your stuff while you’re not at home.