With the holidays right around the corner, millions of packages will be delivered this month. But with increased deliveries, comes increased risk of mail theft. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office urges the public to protect your packages and mail this holiday season.
“Millions of dollars are lost each year due to porch piracy,” HCSO Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Ginger Campbell said. “The best thing you can do is to prevent it rather than film it.”
Campbell says that while having security cameras at home are helpful, they often give residents a false sense of security as cameras won’t always deter thieves from taking your package or even help you get your stolen items back. Rather, community members should take extra precautions to stop theft before it happens.
But it’s not just packages being stolen this time of year; thieves also commonly target your mailbox. One local resident in the Fickle Hill area reported to the Sheriff’s Office that around this time every year they see mail from across the Greater Humboldt Bay area dumped in their neighborhood.
“I recommend that everyone who is able should buy a mailbox with a locking feature to prevent thieves from easily reaching into your mailbox and taking your mail,” Campbell said.
But even with a locking mailbox or surveillance cameras, community members are encouraged to take the following precautions this holiday season:
- Promptly pickup mail - Try not to leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door for any length of time.
- Arrange for prompt pickup - If you cannot be home to receive a package, make another arrangement (like have a neighbor pick it up for you or have your package delivered to your workplace).
- Customize the delivery- If you are expecting something you know will not fit in your mailbox and you don’t think you will be home to receive it, you can authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit usps.com, enter the tracking number in Track a Package, and select Delivery Instructions.
- Use Hold for Pickup - If you are sending gifts or other important items, you can choose the Hold for Pickup option on usps.com. The packages will be safely held at the recipient’s local Post Office location until they can pick it up. If you are expecting a package and won’t be there to retrieve it, you can redirect it to your local Post Office location by selecting Hold for Pickup using Intercept a Package under Track & Manage on usps.com.
- Request a hold on all mail – You can sign up for Hold Mail service on usps.com if you plan on being away from home or you know you won’t be able to check your mail for a few days. Your letters and packages will be held securely at your Post Office location until you pick them up or request they be delivered to your home. Be sure to notify your mail carrier at least three days prior to leaving.
- Alert a trusted neighbor – If you are going out of town, alert a trusted neighbor to collect any mail or packages that are delivered while you are gone.
- Don't send cash - Be careful about what you send. Don’t risk sending cash in the mail.
- Inquire about overdue mail - If you do not receive a check, credit card or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the sender as soon as possible and inquire about it.
- Install a locking mailbox and a package delivery box – Make sure your mailbox and delivery boxes are big enough to receive several parcels of mail and meet USPS requirements.
- Report mail theft - If you have a home security camera system, make sure it captures activity at your front door and mailbox. If you catch any mail thieves in the act, save the video and alert your local Postal Inspectors. Video surveillance can assist in preventing crimes and catching bad guys.
To report mail theft, call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or file a report with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at https://www.uspis.gov/report/.