Protect your packages this holiday season

(WSPA) – As people send even more packages through the mail this holiday season, law enforcement urge them to be extra careful as criminals look for their opportunities to make a steal.

The U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver 591 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Gaffney resident Tashuna Logan said post office officials told her the mail carrier gave the package with her son’s birthday present to someone else.

“She was like she [mail carrier] pulled up in front of my house and a guy walked up to her truck and said is this for 1104 and she said yes and she handed him both my packages,” Logan said.

Logan says it’s unclear what exactly happened on November 9. 7 News has reached out to the USPS for comment.

Police say it’s the time of year when thieves are on the prowl.

“I think most of the crimes of opportunity increase during the holidays,” said Spartanburg Police Lieutenant Doug Harwell. “We all have the mindset a lot of times that it happened to someone else. It didn’t happen to me.”

Lt. Harwell said residents need to also protect themselves from criminals.

The USPS offers the following tips to protect your mail this holiday season:

1.     Avoid sending cash by mail. 
Checks and money orders are safer than cash, and may be cancelled or reissued in the event of theft.
 
2.     Don’t leave your mail or parcels unattended—especially overnight.
You wouldn’t leave your wallet or purse on the front seat of your unlocked car in the driveway at night. Neither should you leave your mail or parcels unprotected for any length of time. Remember—your mailbox is not your backup file cabinet. If you have a stay-at-home neighbor, enlist their help. Ask to schedule your package deliveries to their address, increasing the likelihood someone will be home to receive your package.
 
3.     Consider an alternate shipping address.
Some employers will allow you to ship small amounts of personal items to your work location. If your employer allows you to do so, plan your shipment accordingly.
 
4.     It’s 3PM; do you know where your package is?
You could. USPS provides real-time tracking for a wide-range of products, enabling you to monitor your package’s status from tender to delivery. Registered users of USPS.com mayreceive status updates via text alerts delivered to their mobile devices.
 
5.     Change of plans? Change your package’s delivery address—while it’s in transit!
If you’ll be away when your package is being delivered, try USPS Package Intercept®. Prior to delivery, you can redirect most domestic package shipments to the sender, a new address, or the Post Office™ to be held for pickup. The service is fee-based, but you are only charged if the package is successfully re-directed. 
 
6.     Customize your delivery. Provide the Postal Service personalized instructions.
If your package doesn’t fit in your mail box and you won’t be home to receive it, you can provide delivery instructions online and authorize your carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit USPS.com, track your package, and select Delivery Instructions. You can also request your package be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.
 
7.     Your package on demand: ship using “Hold for Pickup” to your local Post Office™.
Priority Mail Express Hold for Pickup service lets customers claim packages on their schedule, at more than 30,000 USPS locations, where their packages await safely and securely. Automatic notifications via e-mail or SMS text messaging are also available.
 
8.     Keep thieves at bay while you’re away. Hold your mail at your Post Office.
If you’re going away for a few days, and don’t want to risk leaving your package unattended, take advantage of the Postal Service’s Request Hold Mail service. Your letters and packages will be held securely at your local Post Office™ until you’re back in town to receive it again.
 
9.     Secure your shipment using USPS Signature Services.
The Postal Service’s Signature Services help ensure your package ends up in the right hands, by requiring a signature at time of delivery. Choose from a variety of offerings including Signature Confirmation, Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery, Adult Signature Required, and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery. Also available—Signature Confirmation™, which provides you the date and time an item was delivered or attempted, and includes a record maintained by USPS and available electronically or by email, upon request.
 
10.  Protect your package every step of the way, and insure its valuable contents.
Opt for Registered Mail service—the Postal Service’s most secure form of mail delivery. Registered Mail receives special-handling from tender to delivery, documenting the chain of custody of your important item. Electronic verification of delivery or attempted delivery is available upon request. Insurance may also be available to protect against loss or damage.
 
11.  Control your package’s delivery date using Priority Mail Express.
Now, you can choose your delivery date, using Priority Mail Express. It’s the Postal Service’s fastest domestic service (with limited exceptions), available 365 days a year. It offers a money-back guarantee and overnight scheduled delivery to most U.S. addresses—including PO Boxes™. You’ll also get proof of delivery signature record, tracking services, and $100 insurance (most shipments).  
 
12.  Upgrade the security for all your mail, not just your parcels.
Consider renting a Post Office Box at your local Post Office. Your mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing you to retrieve your mail on your schedule.
 
For more information on these products and services, visit USPS.com
 
Please also remember, report suspicious activity immediately.
If you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind the USPS truck or unknown persons hovering around mailboxes, report the activity to your local police department and local Post Office immediately. The package you save may be your own!