FORSYTH COUNTY -- As UPS and FedEx trucks begin dropping off Cyber Monday and other holiday purchases, cardboard boxes and envelopes are sure to pile up on doorsteps and under Christmas trees.
According to the National Retail Federation, sales — excluding auto, gas and restaurant sales — in the months of November and December are expected to increase by 3.6 percent from the 7-year running average, reaching $655.8 billion.
With a large amount of that holiday shopping now being done online, more and more customers are having items sent to their homes.
In an effort to keep the holiday season joyous, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is offering some tips to keep package thieves away.
While some thieves spend their days looking for unattended packages, others see a quick opportunity to grab lone boxes, said Cpl. Pete Sabella, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
“The biggest issue is that a package is dropped off at 10 a.m. and just sitting there all day for someone to see, and that’s when they get taken,” he said.
1. When having packages sent to a home, make sure someone will be home to receive them, or have them sent to your place of business or somewhere they can be received. Packages left unattended by the front door are inviting to criminals
2. Use a delivery service that offers customized delivery options to avoid the unattended package problem
• UPS has a free service (which can be upgraded to premium for $40 per year) to track and direct package delivery
• The UPS My Choice free membership includes options to reschedule or reroute a delivery to a UPS story or access point location, request a confirmed two-hour delivery window, provide specific delivery instructions for the UPS driver and set delivery alerts via text message or email
• The premium service gives customers even more control over their packages, according to the UPS website
• FedEx gives recipients similar options
• Online services, such as the website doorman.com, can help deter thieves
At the mall
Though online shopping allows customers to avoid lines and crowds, some prefer the experience of in-store shopping.
Those who choose to physically enter a store should be just as aware of their retail items as they are their packages, Sabella said.
3. Plan to finish all shopping prior to loading the trunk with packages. Loading your trunk and then returning to the store for additional purchases can be an invitation for criminals to steal your packages
4. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, and store any electronics or items of value such as purses, backpacks, gym bags, GPS units, MP3 players, etc. in the trunk or out of plain view
5. Take advantage of in-store pickup. While some stores offer free home-delivery for out-of-stock items, around the holidays, it can be more prudent to take advantage of in-store pickup, to avoid the hassle of worrying about package delivery
6. Inquire with local stores about pick-up options.