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How To Protect Holiday Packages From Porch Pirates; 'It Wasn't Just Random...They've Been Screening The Whole Block'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Caught on surveillance video: a man running up a set of stairs isn't going to visit friends.

He's part of a team that's stealing packages. And the pandemic means more opportunities for the porch pirates.

CBS 2's Steven Graves reports on how you can keep your deliveries safe.

A homeowner in Chicago's Little Italy had his neighbor move his package to the top of the steps. Surely it would be safe.

"I feel bad for people who need to do this."

But two thieves got his Amazon delivery, along with many more.

"It wasn't just a random event where somebody felt tempted. They've been screening the whole block," said Gerardo Morfini, who had his package stolen. He said he returned from work to find boxes from neighbors with labels ripped open.

It's not a surprise, as more people are shopping online due the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news: More shoppers work at home to pickup packages. But Chicago police said if you do not plan to require a signature or have USPS hold your package, the service's "informed delivery" feature also notifies you if an unexpected gift is coming.

"Or in the event that you're not able to be home to customize your delivery using the tracking number, going online and laying out specific instructions for your letter carrier," said Spencer Block, A United States Postal Inspector.

UPS and FedEx will let you choose an alternate place to get your package delivered. Think grocery or drug stores. And Amazon offers "in-garage" delivery. You can also install a secure lockbox yourself.

Morfini said next time, he's opting for an Amazon locker near his workplace.

"These neighbors that I met, we're going to keep an eye out. So we're going to be talking to each other more," Morfini said.

And he's starting by alerting people on the Nextdoor app in hopes of stopping these thieves from hitting anywhere else.

The United States Postal Service and Chicago police encourage people to report thefts, no matter the value of the package.

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