BLAINE, Minn. – (Nov. 30, 2017) – This Cyber Monday was the largest day of online shopping ever, with more than $6.5 billion spent. As all these goods make their way to your home, Laura Landes, Crime Prevention Coordinator at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said there’s an increased theft of mail and packages that they are seeing this time of year.
“We see an increase in thefts of mail during the holiday season and theft of packages off the front stoops,” Landes said.
If the package is delivered to your doorstep, anything can happen before you get home.
“Theft of packages, you know there’s so many more consumers doing online shopping now during the holiday season, you’re buying a lot of gifts and it is convenient and you get them shipped to your home and everything but criminals also know that there’s an increase in those kind of purchases that are being shipped to homes so they’re watching out,” Landes said.
The thieves might not know what is in the package but they know there is a chance that they can use it, sell it or return it to the store it came from. They usually steal envelopes for simpler reasons.
“The reason for the theft of mail increase is a lot of people this time of year are sending cards and inside those cards are gift cards or cash and this is just prime opportunity for somebody stealing mail,” Landes explained.
But this doesn’t have to be your story.
“There’s some things that people can do,” Landes said. “Don’t send cash and don’t send gift cards through the mail, if it’s a possibility to send a card and maybe do an online transfer of funds, there’s so many options out there like Pop Money and things like that where you can deposit directly into people’s account, I know it’s not as sentimental or whatever but it’s accomplishing the same goal and taking away the risk of being victim of theft.”
You can also receive as many bills as possible online, use a locking mailbox, get packages delivered to your workplace, get your mail out of your mailbox as soon as possible – even if it’s just junk mail.
“With junk mail comes again the pre-approved cards and information like that where thieves who are pretty sophisticated, they steal mail for a reason, may be able to glean enough information to open up accounts, we’ve seen accounts for cellular service opened, even shopping accounts, just opened based on some pretty generic information,” Landes said.
You can also opt out of prescreen credit card offers, or get your packages sent to the post office instead of your home, or use in store pick up, track your packages, or require a signature on your package deliveries. Taking any or all of these steps can take more effort on your part.
“But it’s actually worth it because we are seeing an increased call load even on people being victims of theft and sometimes maybe you’re not going to recognize that you were a victim till well after the fact,” she said.
Even if you are not an avid online shopper, you can help keep your neighborhood safe by keeping an eye out.
“If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, people lingering in cars or even walking the streets or by mailboxes, you know and you’re not really sure what they’re doing, call 911, let the officers and the deputies go and check it out because this is truly is a problem for us,” she said.
Landes mentioned that mail theft continues to be a big problem through tax season, when lot of financial documents with social security numbers are in the mail. If you suspect you have been a victim of theft, you should contact your seller to see if the package was insured, contact the delivery company to confirm it was delivered, and make a report with law enforcement.