With the holiday season in full swing, it’s not uncommon for parcels to be stolen — but there are ways to protect your presents from “porch pirates.”
Don Lehman, program coordinator of Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch, a non-profit organization promoting crime prevention in the city, says he hears about parcel thefts frequently, approximately once a month and more at this time of year.
“We do know that it’s obviously an issue and it seems to be an issue all year round, not necessarily just at Christmas time,” he said.
Two packages stolen in one day
Jo-Anne Beaulieu, who lives in Edmonton’s Summerside neighbourhood, said she had two parcels stolen by the same person in one day — and it’s caught on her doorbell camera.
Beaulieu said her husband went through their security footage and saw a man pull up in their driveway, walk to the front step, pick up the package and drive off with it.
“I was checking the video some more because I’m like, well this is crazy and discovered that there was a second package that was delivered also just within two minutes of the first package,” Beaulieu said.
“The person that came and took the package, actually took both packages and it was less than an hour later.”
Edmonton police say homeowners can protect themselves from porch pirates by tracking their packages and making sure someone is home to receive them.
They recommend Canada Post’s flex delivery, which allows customers to ship packages directly to a Canada Post outlet and pick them up there.
Mohamed Elfishawi, owner of Terwillegar Pharmacy, recently signed up to be Canada Post’s temporary pick-up location in the neighbourhood.
Elfishawi said he wanted to sign up last year when some of his customers were complaining about their parcels being stolen.
“I had lived in Terwillegar for a couple of years already and one of my neighbours had a very precious parcel that was stolen from her porch,” he said.
“Like her mom sent her something and after she sent it, she passed away, so this was like a very important parcel for her.”
Elfishawi said since hearing about that story, he wanted to help, but the sign-up process couldn’t be completed until November this year.
Businesses who qualify as a pick-up location also receive money from Canada Post.
Elfishawi said his pharmacy is receiving around 50 to 100 parcels a day, and they will continue the service until January next year and then re-evaluate.
UPS offers a similar program for businesses. Currently, it has 39 businesses signed up to be pick-up locations in Edmonton.
Steve Vitale, spokesperson with UPS, says businesses receive compensation for every package dropped off. He says fewer than one per cent of deliveries result in a stolen package report.
“It really varies by location…if we flag an area as a potential area where package theft is occurring more than it should, or on a more consistent basis, we actually will stop delivering to that area and drop it off at the nearest access point,” he said.
Vitale said customers concerned with leaving their package unattended can also call the shipping company to reroute their package before it gets to their home.
Not enough reporting
Lehman said it’s common for Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch to receive videos of stolen parcels, but many people don’t report the crime.
“The police may or may not come to deal with it, so maybe sometimes people get a little bit of, ‘Nothing’s going to happen anyway so what’s the point,'” he said.
Lehman said all crimes should be reported, regardless of its severity.
As for Beaulieu, she did report her thefts that happened on Dec. 12 to Edmonton police and says she understands it might not be classified as a “high priority.”
“It’s not just our neighborhood, it’s all over the city,” she said. “It was also annoying because of course, I was waiting for that package.
“It’s getting close to Christmas and, you know, it’s really not a very Christmasy thing to do to come and steal someone’s parcel.”