A senior Central Saanich police officer predicts that thefts of packages delivered to homes will only increase as police continue to investigate two likely related thefts of packages delivered by an Internet retail giant.
“My sense is it is going to continue,” said Darren Lench, deputy chief of Central Saanich Police. “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
He made that comment after officers responded to two incidents in the Brentwood Bay area of Central Saanich on Tuesday. During one incident, unknown suspects stole a puzzle from one of two boxes delivered to a house in the Greig Crescent area. The would-be thieves also opened a second box containing a puzzle but left it behind.
“I guess what they are doing is that they are opening up boxes and are deciding what they want to take or not take,” said Lench.
Both boxes bore the labels of Amazon, the Internet retail giant.
Empty Amazon boxes were also discovered in a roadside ditch in the area of Wallace Drive and Benvenuto Avenue.
“Things were taken out and the address labels were ripped off,” said Lench.
While police do not have any suspects at this stage, Lench believes that the cases are connected because both incidents involve packages from the same company.
“We don’t have any suspect names or vehicle descriptions or anything like that,” he said. “Unfortunately, it seems to be a crime of the season. You have seen that female suspect in Nanaimo and you have seen it in other jurisdictions as well.”
The Nanaimo case cited by Lench saw a security camera capture a woman allegedly stealing a parcel from a front porch. According to a December 2019 article from The New York Times, an estimated 90,000 packages disappear daily in New York City. According to a survey published in July 2020, one in five Americans found themselves victims of these so-called porch pirates since the start of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
Package thefts reported. 1. Schedule deliveries when home. 2. Use tracking & notifications to see when packages arrive. 3. Use a postal box/locked mailboxes. 4. Get packages placed out of view, delivered to a work/lobby. 5. Use #BlockWatch to receive each other’s packages. #csaan pic.twitter.com/J4lD56wGAM
— cspoliceservice (@cspoliceservice) December 16, 2020
With the number of home deliveries likely to rise in the future against the backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 safety measures, Central Saanich Police have issued several tips to prevent porch pirates from striking.
“One, take away that crime of opportunity,” said Lench. That could mean using the Block Watch program to help coordinate the reception of packages with neighbours. Police also encourage residents to schedule deliveries when home, using tracking and notification systems to see when packages arrive. Residents are also encouraged to use postal boxes or locked mail boxes. Police also suggest residents to get packages placed out of view or delivered to work or lobbies.
Lench is also asking residents to keep an eye out for suspicious individuals or vehicles who might be following delivery trucks or casing out neighbourhoods. “We need to hear about that because that is the only way we can catch the criminals,” said Lench.
Lench said not everybody is reporting the crime, because many might not be aware that somebody had stolen their packages, believing that their deliveries are still outstanding.
“That is the challenge,” he said. “If somebody had an Amazon box stolen and they know it, we need to know about that.”
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