By Deb Belt (Patch Staff) - November 16, 2016 5:15 pm ET
Now that the seasons of Pokémon Go players and creepy clowns have largely passed, the next stranger in your yard will probably be looking to steal your holiday packages.
As online shoppers plow through their holiday gift lists, UPS, Federal Express and U.S. Postal Service trucks are driving through neighborhoods dropping off goodies. And in a move dubbed "front porch shopping," observant thieves will follow delivery trucks and steal recently delivered packages from porches and stoops.
The gift season looks bright for thieves, with sales in November and December expected to increase 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion overall, according to the National Retail Federation. Online sales should increase between 7 and 10 percent to about $117 billion.
Police and security experts have shared some reminders on how to thwart "porch pirates" and ensure you receive your packages:
- If possible, have your package delivered to a location where it can be received by a trusted person.
- Ask neighbors who are home during the day to watch for deliveries.
- Request that the shipper holds the package at their facility for pickup.
- Track deliveries online and confirm delivery has occurred.
- Insure valuable items.
- Provide delivery instructions so packages are left out of sight from the street.
- Watch out for vehicles following delivery vans through neighborhoods. Some thieves will simply shadow deliver drivers and go from house to house stealing newly delivered packages.
- When sending packages, take them to a post office or other shipping facility rather than leaving them outside your home for pickup. Let the person you are sending the package to know to expect the package.
- Show off your home security system; make sure you have a sign in the front yard. If you have security cameras, make sure potential thieves know they're there, and if you have a doorbell camera, use it.
- Sign up for email notifications from FedEx, UPS and businesses like Amazon and Urban Outfitters to track your package from initial shipment to its arrival at your home or the recipient's address if you have the gift delivered directly.