(Ontario Provincial Police file photo)(Ontario Provincial Police file photo)

Porch pirate season in full swing

It's the holiday season, and it's prime time for thieves to walk off with the gifts you were hoping to place under the Christmas tree.

Just about everybody has seen the viral videos of people helping themselves to packages left on porches by delivery drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic created a boom for online and mail-order shopping, but Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) also say it created more opportunities for dishonest people to take off with the packages you had delivered.

The so-called "porch pirate" phenomenon seems to get worse during the holiday season, as these thieves use an illegal alternative to visiting the malls, but the OPP say there are things you can do to make yourself less likely a victim, starting with picking up your packages in-store or curbside if that option is available.

The OPP has suggested requiring someone to sign for a package when you place your order. You can also have it delivered to a relative or neighbour you trust, who will be home when the package is dropped off. You can even arrange to have packages delivered to you at your job, but be sure to check with your employer first to see if that is allowed.

Try to arrange deliveries for when you are home or use the tracking feature offered by carriers so that you can be home when the parcel arrives.

If you must have the package left on your porch, the OPP has suggested installing video or doorbell cameras with signage saying that surveillance is under effect, and asking the driver to leave the package in an out-of-view place.

Police say if you notice someone taking a package off your porch, gather as much information or video footage as you can and give them a call immediately. Do not attempt to stop the thief yourself. If your package is stolen, police recommend notifying the store where you bought it.

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