FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Online shoppers, keep your guard up.
It's important to know when packages are scheduled to arrive and to try to be home to grab them when they do.
As if supply chain shortages weren't enough to deal with this holiday season, "porch pirates" are something homeowners need to be aware of.
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 packages to be delivered.
After the delivery truck drives away, they swoop in, pick up the package and drive away.
"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, the DA's Office said.
As people do even more online shopping during the holidays, the Tarrant County Criminal DA's Office recommends taking the following 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 watch a video on the topic.
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