Prince George, B.C. has come up with a creative way to catch porch pirates — thieves who nab delivered packages left at front doors. The city’s RCMP has partnered with retail giant Amazon to help reduce package theft, and the project is the first of its kind in Canada.
A frontline officer with the police service, Const. Brent Benbow, reached out to the company about the community’s issues with the crimes. The retailer responded by sending equipment, packages and products to help the Mounties catch thieves.
“[Amazon was] very thankful we are addressing it and were excited to support us in our efforts. It’s always helpful to have partners in the community who support our efforts to stop property crime,” Benbow said in a police press release.
The detachment said they had used 50 bait packages so far — which include GPS trackers — and the packages have been triggered three times — with one 37-year-old resident being arrested in connection with the investigations.
This isn’t the first time a B.C. city has baited holiday thieves. Last year, Surrey RCMP used bait packages in two malls to catch three men over the course of five days, who stole bait packages containing “name brand electronics and jewelry boxes in bags” and “had a history of property crime or related criminal code offences.”
Officers in plainclothes watched over the bait packages, which were placed in busy parts of the malls like the food courts. It wasn’t all naughty news though. Seven people landed themselves on the nice list by watching over the packages until their owners returned, or handed them over to guest services desks and security guards.
Porch pirates and other gift thieves are becoming more common, especially around the holidays when many are ordering items online and taking advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales.
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Delivery drivers have even noticed the uptick, and some say they’ve picked up on when they’ve been followed. If the employees notice a potential thief is following their vehicle, they can call their managers, who often will report suspicious activity to police, CTV News reported. Amazon also has “support teams” in charge of guiding drivers who believe they are being followed.
The RCMP recommended people who shop online take precautions to reduce their chances of being victims of package theft and other types of retail crime, including the following:
- Check that the website you’re on is legitimate
- Use Paypal or a small balance credit card for purchases
- Don’t click on links or coupons that are too good to be true
- Search websites you want to use to make sure they’re safe, and when you can, stick to businesses you trust
- Have packages require tracking and a signature upon delivery
- If you won’t be home when a package is going to be delivered, consider changing the location to a place where someone you trust can pick it up, like a friend, relative or the post office
- Keep packages out of sight in vehicles.
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