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Holiday season package thefts can be avoided with new tools

Holiday season deliveries could top 1 billion
Posted at 6:29 PM, Sep 28, 2016

A St. Petersburg man sent ABC Action News a home surveillance video of a postal worker behaving badly.

The camera catches a USPS driver tossing a package about 30 feet to his front door, slamming into the porch when it hits.

The homeowner, Jim Matson, went to the post office to report it, and showed them the video.

Matson says one of the postal workers knew the driver and said he'd talk to him, but Matson says they never offered him an apology.

And as bad as that is, at least Matson received his delivery.

The Tampa Heights Neighborhood Watch is reporting two recent cases of "package pirates" stealing deliveries from the front of homes.

An estimated 23 million Americans have at one point reported incidents of package theft, according to a survey by InsuranceQuotes.com.

It's a crime trend only expected to grow as more people buy stuff online than ever before, and as we get closer to the holiday season.

"All of the sudden you've got packages, groceries all this stuff being delivered to your home and you need some security to keep an eye on it," explains Steve Greenberg, a product scout from Florida known for his book "Gadget Nation."

Greenberg says many are turning to home security cameras, which are cheaper and easier to use than ever before.

"You can have something watching your front door for 24/7. If there's any activity at all it turns on and then sends you a clip to your smart phone," Greenberg tells ABC Action News.

He says different models will cost different amounts based on data storage, and whether there's a monthly fee. He says people should shop on their own, but he prefers avoiding a monthly fee. The "Ring" video doorbell is an especially popular product, he says because it allows you to talk with someone at your door.

"You can even tell a guy whose bringing a package to you, hey can you bring it around back, put it inside the door, behind the sofa? You can tell them what to do," says Greenberg, who can be found online at @SteveTV.

If you're looking to avoid having something shipped to your house altogether this season, there's a new option from Amazon for people in the Tampa Bay Area.

Amazon lockers are being placed outside many local 7-11 stores. You can pick any locker location as your delivery address and then pick up your delivery with a unique code, and it has the added convenience of being accessible to you at any time.

You can also have packages shipped directly to the post office, or UPS or FedEx stores.

"First and foremost [customers] should have a package shipped to where they are, not where they aren't," says UPS spokesperson Dan McMackin to ABC Action News. "That means if you are working during the day have it shipped to where you work. Another tip is to have consumers tell their driver where they would like packages left. We will follow their directions and leave packages at the back door, or in the garage or wherever they tell us. And last, they can also use our free service called My Choice, which will send them a proactive email alert as to when their package is going to arrive, that way they will know when it's coming to make sure they are waiting for it."

According to the Tampa Heights Neighborhood Watch, a man and woman in a white truck (tag # QAW9Y) were recently seen stealing a delivery box from a home in the middle of the day. They say a couple with a similar description did the same thing there last week as well.