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Don’t let a Grinch steal your Christmas this year, tips to dissuade porch pirates

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Ontario Provincial Police are offering tips for residents to ensure you don’t fall victim to a holiday Grinch this season.

While online shopping can be helpful for finding the perfect gift, it also makes it easy for that gift to fall into the wrong hands — porch pirates.

“Certainly it's a problem all year round,” said OPP spokesperson Derek Rogers. “But particularly this time of year, I think most of us partake in some online shopping because it's so easy.”

“Unfortunately, we know that that also makes it easy for thieves. You can just swipe something right off your doorstep.”

To ensure thieves aren’t nabbing any packages from your doorway this festive season, OPP has the following tips:

  • Request a signature on delivery.
  • Ship the package to a trusted neighbour or relative who will be home.
  • Arranged to have packages delivered to your workplace - if your employer allows it.
  • Track your delivery online so you know when they're slated to arrive and plan to be home when the package is delivered.
  • Install video cameras and post signage to indicate surveillance is in effect.
  • Request the package be left out of sight at a rear or side door.
  • Choose in-store or curbside pickup.

“It's one of the big things that when we put it out on social media, everybody hates the porch pirate or the package thief. It's right up there with the person that doesn't brush off their car. This is one of the top ones that really irritates people, for understandable reasons,” Rogers said. 

He cautioned online shoppers against taking matters into their own hands and avoid baiting potential porch pirates, suggesting the best thing to do is call police should your package be stolen.

“You have to be very careful when you do this kind of vigilante thing because if somebody becomes hurt you certainly you might be subject to charges. Nobody would want that,” Rogers said. “Any information that the police have in terms of what's happening in that neighborhood from a theft perspective is important intelligence. It's important information. The police can adjust their operations to concentrate in a certain area where there is a problem. So don't dismiss and think well what are you going to do? Certainly contact police and let us know.” 

OPP remind residents if packages are stolen from your home, to report the incident to local police and the company that delivered your purchase. Police say reporting the crime gives police valuable information about potential theft trends in your area and can dedicate resources to problem areas.

“If you get caught and we do catch people who are package thieves, that's a criminal offense,” Rogers said. “Theft is a criminal offense. And do you really want a criminal record something that's worth 20 bucks?”

To contact your local OPP detachment, call 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). 

- With files from CTV Windsor's Chris Campbell

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