Ask Arlington: Keeping You and Your Items Safe for the Holidays
By Office of Communication
Posted on November 23, 2021, November 23, 2021

The holiday brings joy to many. Unfortunately, there are grinches out there who see this time as an opportunity to take your belongings. In the latest Ask Arlington, Officer Jesse Minton provides some simple tips that can help keep you and your items safe. 

If I have packages shipped to my home for the holidays, what can I do to prevent porch pirates from stealing them?

Officer Minton: “The number one thing we recommend is to make arrangements, so your packages are not sitting outside unattended for a long period of time. You might think about having them delivered to your workplace instead of your home so you can pick them up right away. If you know you’re going to be away from home for a while, ask a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member to swing by your house, pick it up, and hold it for you. You should also be tracking your packages online, so you know when they’ll be delivered. That way, you can make any necessary pickup arrangements. Finally, be vigilant. If you see someone you don’t recognize in your neighborhood carrying packages, or if you notice a vehicle following a delivery truck around the block, report it so we can come check it out.”

What are some things that shoppers at our brick-and-mortar stores need to be aware of?

Officer Minton: “Thefts are what we refer to as crimes of opportunity, meaning the folks going out and committing them are looking for easy opportunities to make off with your stuff. When you’re out at a mall or shopping center this holiday season, be proactive and don’t make it easy for them. You need lock your vehicle when you’re not with it. That sounds very obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we take a theft report where the victim did not do that. We also recommend that you not leave valuables or a lot of bags in your vehicle when you’re not with it. Thieves like to scope out parking lots, and if you have a lot of items in your car that they can see easily through the window, they may be more likely to target your vehicle. If you do need to leave some items in your car while you run a quick errand, we suggest you hide them on the floor or under the seat where they’re not as visible or in a trunk that doesn’t have windows.”

What are some things I can do to protect my home while I am away for the holidays?

Officer Minton: “The best thing you can do to discourage thieves from breaking into your home is to make it look like you’re still there. If you have lights that can run on a timer, set them to come on during the evening hours while you’re gone. If you don’t, you might consider leaving a light on near the front of the house. You should also contact the post office and put a temporary hold on your mail delivery. A full mailbox that has clearly gone unchecked can signal to a would-be thief that no one is home.  If you have an alarm system, make sure it’s activated. Try to avoid broadcasting on social media that you’re not around. Ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. Finally, if you do have any concerns, you can always call our non-emergency number, and we can send an officer by your home to make sure the coast is clear.”

Officer Minton said the Arlington Police Department will have extra patrols by officers in the retail areas, and as a reminder, if you see something, report it

Furthermore, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office warns about porch pirates. Porch pirates are people who steal packages delivered to homes. Some drive around neighborhoods looking for packages left at front doors. Others tail FedEx or UPS trucks, waiting for 

“This will not be tolerated in Tarrant County,” said Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County’s Criminal District Attorney. “We will prosecute these thieves trying to cash in by stealing people’s packages.” 

This crime is a concern as online shopping continues to be increasingly popular with consumers. This way of shopping has grown in popularity through the years and swelled during the COVID pandemic, when people stayed home to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Porch pirates capitalized on that, picking up packages that had been delivered but not retrieved. This crime is considered theft of mail. If the theft involves packages from less than 10 different addresses, it’s a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. 

In Tarrant County, there were 69 of these cases in 2020 and 51 through October 2021. As online shopping gears up for the holidays, take precautions:

  • Track your package so you always know where it is.
  • Consider shipping your packages to work – or to a friend or relative who will be home and can collect them when they are delivered. In-store pickups and Amazon lockers are other options.
  • Install security cameras or package theft alarms at your home.
  • Schedule your packages to arrive when you are home.
  • If you are a victim: File a claim with the merchant and the shipper. If you have any evidence of the theft – especially if you have video footage – contact your local police department.

Click here to see the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's video:

Packages on doorstep of home.

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