Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Police Prevention Holiday Tips Including Package Porch Thefts

The Laurelhurst Blog has received an increase in reports of packages stolen from porches with the holidays approaching. 

Some recent reports of stolen packages came from homes located on NE 41st, a few blocks from the park where the residents were out only a short time and the 3800 block of  42nd Avenue NE, where residents reported seeing someone in a light colored jacket, jeans, tennis shoes with brown hair and a baseball like hat. 

The Seattle Police said:
We are at a time of year when we see an increase in package thefts from homes.   Some package thieves will follow or watch for delivery trucks and then target a home after a delivery is made; other thieves may just happen to see the package left at the doorstep of the home, in plain view of the street, and help themselves.

Here are Seattle Police holiday prevention tips:

Package prevention:
  • If you are having packages delivered from an online order try to get them sent to your place of work if that's allowed. If not, there are some companies that have lockers available as a pickup location.
  • If you are leaving presents out to look at until it's time to open them, try to make sure you can't see them from a window or door in your home.
  • If you see someone suspicious checking out mailboxes for deliveries call 911. We need your help on this one, get a good description of the person and their vehicle if they have one.
  • Track your shipment: All of the major delivery companies offer package tracking, some providing free alerts letting you know where your package is in the shipping process. 
  • Require a signature upon delivery.
  • Pick up the item(s) from the carrier’s local hub.
  • Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local shipping facility.
  • Request the package be left with a trusted neighbor who has agreed to accept the package for you.
  • Arrange to have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it.  This could be your workplace, a friend or relative’s home, with a trusted neighbor, the leasing office at your apartment complex or even the local “mailbox” business that may agree to accept shipment of your item for a fee.
  • If none of the above are viable options, at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location not visible from the street.

Car Prowl Prevention
  • When you exit or enter your parked vehicle, take a moment to look around the area.
  • Turn off and lock your car whenever you have to walk away from it.  This includes at gas pumps, ATMs, coffee shops, etc.  Never leave your car idling and unattended.
    Before leaving your parked car, always remove the keys, roll up the windows and lock the car.
  • Leave No Valuables in Your Car.  Never leave valuables in your car.  Items of little or no value to you still look inviting to a thief.  Even pocket change is enough of an enticement for some thieves.
  • If you must leave valuables in your car (say you’re out shopping and still have some stops to make), make sure that nothing of value is within plain view.  Place items in your car trunk out of sight.  Do this when you get to your car, rather than waiting until you park at your next stop.
  • Don’t leave accessories visible in your car.  You may have taken the Laptop or IPod in with you, but if you leave the USB cables for your laptop or earbuds for the IPod in the back seat, the offender may think those items are in the car and break in anyway.
  • If you have a GPS, think about how it is mounted in your car.  If the mounting for the GPS is visible, the thief may think the GPS is in the glove box or under the seat and may break in to try to get it. Have removable mounting for the GPS and put that out of sight as well.

Personal Safety
  • Before you leave home decide what you actually need to take with you rather than automatically taking your entire handbag or wallet out of habit.  For example, if you are going to the grocery store for a few items, you can carry cash, a single check, or credit/debit card, I.D. and keys in a pocket.
  • Wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable, low profile and appropriate for the weather.  This may not be the most fashionable choice but it is the safest.
  • Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings.  Avoid shortcuts.  Walk confidently.  Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
  • Carry your keys and ID separately.  If someone gets your keys and ID, they may go to your home or business and access that location with the keys.
  • Always maintain positive control over your items.  Don’t tempt a thief by leaving your purse, wallet or packages unattended.  It only takes a second to grab them.  Never leave your purse unattended, even if it is in a shopping cart.
  • If you carry a purse, don’t dangle it from your arm.  Carry it very close to you, preferable with the strap over your shoulder and the purse to the front of your body.  Even better would be to carry the purse over your shoulder across your body and under your coat.
  • Take a friend along when doing holiday shopping.  Using the buddy system reduces your chances of being a victim of robbery.
  • When paying by cash, only take out the amount needed and keep the remainder out of view.  It’s always a good idea to carry minimal amounts of cash, regardless of the time of year.
  • Beware of strangers who bump, shove or get too close. Pickpockets may use these diversions to lift your wallet.
  • Be cautious of those you don’t know who offer to carry bags and packages for you.  Depending on where you shop, store personnel or mall security may offer assistance in carrying packages to your car or escorting you to your vehicle.
  • Before returning to your car, make sure you’re not over-burdened with packages.  Have your car keys in hand to avoid searching for them when you reach your car.
  • If you are attacked on the street, make as much noise as possible by calling for help or blowing a whistle.  Do not pursue your attacker.  Call 911 and report the crime as soon as possible.

Home Prevention Tips
  • Don’t openly display wrapped or received gifts so they are easily visible from the street.  You increase the possibility that a burglar will be tempted to gain entry and steal the gifts.
  • When disposing of the packaging in which gifts and other purchases come, realize that when you place these out for recycling or trash collection, those boxes sitting out on the curb on collection day give a passer-by a pretty good indication of what’s in your home.  Recycle the packaging, yes - but break the boxes down first, turn them inside out so the exterior writing does not show, and don’t put them on the curb until collection day. 
  • Burglars often enter through unlocked doors or windows.  When exterior holiday light extension cords are run inside through a window, this prevents the window from being secured, and this unsecured window is visibly noticeable.  Consider installing an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights so you don’t provide an opened and unlocked entry to your home. If you are going to be away, let your trusted neighbors know that you plan to be out town so that they can watch your home for you.  If they see suspicious activity while you are gone, they will know to call 911 for you.

Seattle Police recommend that citizens should always call 911 if they see a crime in progress or are a crime, no matter how small a person may think it is. 

SPD Public Affairs Officer Michaud said:

Without accurate data we can't make educated decisions on where officers are needed because we are only seeing a part of the issue and cannot put more officers into an area.  
So please, always call 911 if you want something done. Just remember that we will always prioritize life safety emergencies over a property crime. This prioritization can drive up response time to property crimes, but we will get there. This will allow us to track it but you won't have to wait for an officer to come speak with you. 
Also not reporting has a secondary effect that manifests in less officers being assigned to an area because call volume for that area goes down.

Crimes can also be reported on-line here.


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