Prevent package theft this holiday season

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2010 file photo, an package awaits delivery from UPS in Palo Alto, Calif. Amazon is suing more than 1,000 people for advertising their services writing fake reviews for as little as $5 as it seeks to crack down on bogus reviews on its site. The complaint filed Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 in King County Superior Court in Seattle marks the latest effort by the online powerhouse to crack down on fraud on its site. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The holiday gift season is ramping up, which means thieves could be on the lookout for packages left outside of empty homes.

Every year, crooks swipe packages from hundreds of thousands of doorsteps around the holidays. They’re called “porch pirates,” and are the reason why police recommend never sending a package to an unoccupied home.

Robert Desmarais of Westfield told 22News, his wife does most of her holiday shopping online, but theft has never been a concern. “I’ve had very good luck, my neighborhood’s pretty good, so if it’s raining, they’ll put it on the porch, if it’s not, they leave it in front of the door,” he said. is urging shoppers not to take any chances. They estimate nearly 23-million Americans have at least one package stolen every year. Package theft usually happens during the day when most people are at work.

Jasmine Griffin of Springfield said if she’s not home, she ships her package elsewhere. “I either get it sent to my mother’s house, or I have it sent to my house, and make sure it’s sent the day that is my day off,” she said.

You could also have the shipper deliver your package to their facility for pick-up, or schedule it to be delivered at a specific time.

If you don’t do your holiday shopping online, you’re still not 100% safe from thieves. Parked cars can be a prime target during the holidays, especially if you leave any gifts or other items in plain sight. recommends keeping your shopping bags or other valuable items in the trunk, and making sure your car doors are locked, and your windows are rolled up when leaving your car unattended.

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