Police urge residents to help protect against theft of packages

Stock Photo - Packages left on the doorsteps of houses can become a target for thieves.

Package theft has become so common that these particular thieves have been dubbed “porch pirates.” Although these thefts happen all year round, during the gift-giving season, package thefts trend upward.

With the season of giving in full swing, more people are getting boxes shipped right to their doorsteps. Even before the season approached many people were reporting on neighborhood social media sites like Nextdoor or Facebook community pages of packages being stolen soon after delivery.

The good news is that a new bill, House Bill 37, which went into effect on Sept. 1, criminalizes mail theft. The penalty ranges from a class A misdemeanor to third-degree felony, depending on the number of addresses mail is taken from.

If convicted, the punishment ranges from up to one year in jail and a fine of $4,000 to between two and 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Mesquite Police Officer Steven Contreras describes a porch pirate as someone who either drives around following mail trucks or drives through neighborhoods looking for packages left on doorsteps.

Some tips he offered are to require a signature for your deliveries, track your package or ask a neighbor you trust to pickup your package from your doorstep or have it delivered to their house, or have it delivered to your workplace.

Contreras offered some other safety tips to ensure residents have a happy holiday season.

“While out shopping, please be aware of your surroundings at all times. No matter if, you are in the store or walking to and from your car, remember crime happens because of opportunity – it is our job to eliminate the opportunity for crime to occur,” Contreras said.

He suggests people lock their car doors, remove and hide all valuables and gifts when entering stores or their homes.

“During the holidays, you may receive phone calls for donations for a charity.  If you feel uncertain of the validity of the caller you can just hang up. As always, do not give out your credit card information over the phone or any other personal information since it could be fraud,” he said.

With the ease and convenience of e-commerce many people will be doing their shopping online, and the Mesquite PD would like shoppers to utilize the Mesquite Police Exchange Zone to conduct purchases from online apps such as OfferUp. The Exchange Zone is a well-lit area in front of the police department that is monitored 24-7.

“If the seller or buyer refuses to meet at the police department, the deal could be too good to be true,” Contreras said. “If you plan to travel for the holidays please make sure you make the proper arrangements to secure your residence such as holding your mail or making sure your alarm is working properly.”

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