Yakima County residents warned about porch pirates

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Yakima County sheriff’s deputies are warning locals to be aware of porch pirates attempting to steal their packages this holiday season.

Deputies said the people who make it their full-time job to follow FedEx and UPS trucks to steal the packages they deliver will be out in full force this week, as many people start to receive purchases made during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“Porch pirates know that they’re going to be delivered within two, three, four days and so they are out and about looking to steal those packages off of your front porch,” YCSO spokesperson Casey Schilperoort said.

Schilperoort said the easiest way to prevent package theft is to ensure someone is in the home when it’s delivered. If that’s not possible, he suggests asking a friend or neighbor to watch for the package to arrive and take it inside right away.

Future purchases should be sent to a relative or friend who is regularly home and will likely be there for any deliveries. Schilperoort said another option is to ask permission to have items delivered directly to the workplace.

“Most work addresses don’t mind if you have an Amazon package or a package delivered to your office,” Schilperoort said.

People can also rent secure lockers or P.O. boxes where they can go to pick up their packages whenever it’s convenient for them. Schilperoort said he knows other people who use their children’s college address for shipping purposes.

“They know their college students will be at their dorm or they’ll be there in a locked environment where other people can’t steal them,” Schilperoort said.

Anyone with a security system can put up signage letting people know they’re on camera, which might deter some porch pirates. However, Schilperoort said they’re difficult to find and as such, likely won’t end up getting arrested.

“It’s very rare,” Schilperoort said. “Usually, it only happens if there are neighbors that are paying attention and we happen to be in the area very close.”

Even if someone is arrested for suspected package theft, depending on the price of the items they stole, they’re unlikely to stay in jail for long.

“Most of the time, it’s going to be a gross misdemeanor,” Schilperoort said. “You’re going to be let out of jail the next day if you’re not bailed out within an hour.”

Schilperoort said since it’s unlikely the person stealing holiday gifts off the front porch is unlikely to get caught — or give the items back — the best way to prevent package theft is to send items to a secure location in the first place.

“I know it might not be convenient: you might not get it for a few more days or you might have to go an extra step to get it,” Schilperoort said. “But you’ll be happy that you waited that time, versus having to spend all the time online or on customer service calls to let people know it got stolen.”

Schilperoort said if anyone does have a package stolen, they should contact police with whatever information they have and reach out to the company the item was purchased from to ask if they have any ability to track the package remotely.

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