EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 17, 2013

Christmas comes early for package snatchers

This is busiest week for parcel-delivery services

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — The prevalence of online shopping and the shipping of gift packages during Christmas means more deliveries to doorsteps. Unfortunately, it also means an increase in thefts of packages left outside homes.

Nationally, this is the busiest week for parcel-delivery services, and area police warn of an uptick on such thefts.

In Haverhill, Police Lt. Robert Pistone said that in the last two weeks his department has received about a half dozen reports of thefts of packages.

“At this time of year, people do more online shopping and as a result are having packages delivered to their homes,” Pistone said. “In many cases a signature is not required and the package is simply left on a porch or other area.”

According to the magazine, Consumer Reports, delivery services usually try to leave packages in inconspicuous spots, or at least ones that aren’t clearly visible from the street. But delivery workers are rushed, and many of them are holiday-season temps, so don’t expect them to spend too much time hiding your package on the front porch.

In addition to online shopping, yesterday marked the highest global pickup day for UPS with some 34 million packages to be picked up across the world -- double the normal volume. Nearly 29 million of those packages will be delivered today. Overall, the company expects to deliver more than 129 million packages the week before Christmas, said Dan McMackin, a UPS spokesman.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx forecasts more than 260 million shipments will move through its worldwide shipping networks.

U.S. postal workers yesterday were expected to process about 600 million pieces of mail and packages - the busiest mailing day projected this year.

In Haverhill, Lt. Pistone said reports of stolen packages were from residents who were at work and had checked online to find their packages had been delivered to their home, but when they arrived home, their packages were not there.

In one recent incident, an alert witness saw a man taking a delivered package from outside of a home on South Main Street. Police said the witness provided them with a description of the suspect and a photo of the suspect’s vehicle.

Police are searching for a man who was driving a black GMC Denali SUV. Police described the suspect as between 5-feet 8-inches and 6-feet tall, medium build and wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and sneakers.

Pistone said there were about a dozen reports of stolen packages this past summer.

“It wasn’t a random thing, it was a particular crew that was going around Haverhill and surrounding communities stealing items as they were being left,” Pistone said. “They were following around one of the parcel carriers.”

Pistone said Haverhill detectives caught the suspects, who turned out to be a man and a woman living in Lawrence. He said detectives were able to identify the suspects and their vehicle after setting up surveillance cameras at the home of a victim who’d reported packages stolen on several occasions. He said the suspects returned to the same address and were caught on camera.

“When the officers made the arrests, there was a dumpster outside of their (suspect’s) apartment building that had empty boxes of items they’d stolen,” Pistone said.

Police suggest, if possible, to arrange to have your package delivered to a place where someone can accept it, such as a package shipping/delivery center.

“If possible, don’t have your package left at your doorstep as it does invite a crime of opportunity,” Pistone said. “The criminal element does know that at this time of year a lot of packages are being delivered.”

He said it takes time to break into a home, but it doesn’t take much time to take a package that was left at your doorstep.

“We’re asking people to be aware of what’s going on and to look out for each other,” he said.