LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - ‘Tis the season for online shopping and with that comes with reports of packages being stolen.
They might not sail the high seas, but these porch pirates are plundering your holiday presents.
In Lexington County alone, deputies report four packages were taken in the month of November. Three of those were taken right out of someone’s mailbox.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to keep yourself from becoming a victim.
Deputies recommend using scheduled delivery options. They also suggest shipping items to your workplace if possible.
Items can also be left at the post office for you to pick up yourself.
We rode alongside Lexington County Deputy Josh Scoggins, who patrols neighborhoods daily, on the lookout for already dropped off packages in-between calls.
He says if he sees them he’ll try to get out and knock on the door to warn the homeowner that a package is at their front door. The goal is to eliminate the time a package is left in plain sight.
If a person isn’t home, he’ll try to hide the package, that way if a thief were to drive by it wouldn’t be as obvious.
While we didn’t catch any package theft calls on our ride, deputies urge people in the community to stay vigilant because the theft can happen in seconds.
“So these people, if they go and see a package they’ll usually ride around a neighborhood, maybe see if anyone is watching or they might be home, if they determine they are not, they’ll just ride up walk up to the front porch, take the package and go,” Scoggins said. “It’s a matter of seconds is all it takes.”
“These cases of packages being stolen right from the front door are a crime of opportunity,” Captain Adam Myrick with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.
Deputies say camera equipment, like the RING doorbell, are good deterrents for porch pirates.
If it does happen, it also helps deputies by having a clear picture or video of the suspected thief.
But aside from technology, the old fashioned watchful eye can go a long way too.
Jack Richland, who lives in the Summerlake neighborhood in Lexington said, “We got a good community here so we’re all watching out for each other you know making sure that any kind of weird activity we have a Facebook group so we can kind of share that information we see like weird people here or someone we had not seen before like cars at odd times day or night."
If you do find yourself in a situation with a stolen package, deputies urge you to make sure the package was in fact delivered. Most businesses offer online tracking.
If it was delivered and you don’t have your package, then you should file an incident report with law enforcement.
“What we encourage people to do is be on alert this time of year,” Captain Myrick said. “If you see anything suspicious, let us know about it so we can check it out.”
A national study showed about 26 million Americans were victims of “Porch Pirates” in 2017.