Lexington Co. Deputies see rise in stolen packages, offers tips to stop porch pirates

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With online shopping reaching record numbers this holiday season due to the pandemic, more packages are being delivered right to your door. A recent report shows 50% of Americans have experienced package theft in the past year, which is up more than 10% from 2019.

Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has also seen these numbers grow and is now upping neighborhood patrols to help protect your mail. We rode alongside Resident Deputy Mark Moore as he patrolled the Three Fountains area of the county.

“We are getting a lot more calls than we normally would,” Moore explained. “In the subdivisions, it’s so easy to drive through and look at the packages.”

During our ride-along, we didn’t catch anyone in the act of snatching packages, but Moore says his team recently caught a woman stealing mail, and she was charged. What did find more than a dozen homes with packages sitting out in the open? Deputy Moore moved each one to a less obvious location.

“There’s a lot of times where the driver just drops it right there on the front porch, so that makes it easy for someone to especially come in and steal it,” said Moore. “We try to encourage people not to just have the packages out front, if possible.”

There are also some simple steps you can take yourself to protect your mail. Deputy Moore encourages you to leave a shipping note requesting your package be hidden, or request a signature, so your package isn’t dropped off while you’re not at home.

If you want to be even more careful, pick up your package in-store, which could be smart considering the USPS, FedEx, and UPS are already warning delivery times could be delayed due to such high demand.

But for those who still need to ship their packages to their home, Ring doorbell footage is helping Lexington County deputies catch porch pirates.

“Once we have a suspect description, we can kind of link them to any other package thefts, and some of those Ring cameras give us just enough evidence to prosecute them,” Moore explained.

Lexington County resident Jeremy Spiers did all of his Christmas shopping online and knows how valuable his Ring doorbell is.

“We actually had our house hit twice in the same week, one after another,” said Spiers. “You’ve got to protect yourself nowadays, and that’s why I have multiple cameras around.”

While porch pirates might be hesitant to steal a package with a police vehicle insight, some of these deputies are driving unmarked vehicles. The department is also encouraging you to be a good neighbor, and if you see anything suspicious, report it.

“We are trying to catch these guys, and we’re out here being proactive to try to keep you all’s property safe,” said Deputy Moore.

If you are missing a package, check online to make sure it was delivered. If it was and you still don’t have it, you should file an incident report with law enforcement.

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