We see the videos of brazen "porch pirates" every holiday season, grabbing packages right in full view of video doorbells.
While most of us are busy spreading holiday cheer, a naughty few are trying to take what isn't theirs, right off your front porch.
It happened last Christmas to Sam Diener.
"I had ordered a couple of things, they came in a box," he said, "and it said it was shipped."
When he looked around his front door for the package, though, nothing was there.
"It was delivered but it never showed up," he said.
But it's not just your front porch or doorstep you have to worry about this time of year.
According to insurance company Travelers, any time there is an increase in shipping, there is also an increase in theft from inside homes and cars as well.
During Cyber Monday, for example, Travelers found on-premises theft claims went up 28 percent in the past decade, largely due to porch pirates.
Things you can do to protect yourself
So what can you do?
Jennifer Wilbert of Travelers says video doorbells can't always deter crime, but they can help catch thieves in the act.
"You'd have video evidence that you could share with the police as well as your insurer," she said.
In addition, your insurer might also give a discount just for having a video doorbell.
Next, she says, consider motion sensing spotlights, which are proven to chase away intruders and thieves when they switch on without warning.
"Particularly in regions where it's getting darker earlier or during the holidays, when packages are getting delivered and dropped off at all different times of the day and night," she said.
To protect your packages, Wilbert says:
- Take advantage of delivery alerts, so you can prepare for the exact hour of arrival.
- Ask a neighbor to bring packages in for you, if you are not home at the time.
- Have packages delivered to your office, if you are at work.
Another tip: If you're sending a gift to another person's home, let them know a package is on the way.
"Just so they know to expect it and be on the lookout for it," she said.
If one of your packages goes missing, she suggests you call the shipper or seller.
One of them may have insurance to cover the claim.
Finally, if you are expecting an Amazon delivery, request that it is dropped off at a nearby Amazon Locker or Pickup Hub (they are now outside many convenience stores).
That way, there's no risk of theft and you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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