Watch WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office aiming to help protect your holiday packages from porch pirates

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — As both retailers and consumers adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, more people are doing their Christmas shopping online – and they’re doing it earlier. And as excited as they’ll be to get their gifts delivered, police warn porch pirates are even more excited.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said people reported more than $76,000 in losses due to package theft last year. With 80% of people planning to do their shopping online this year and boxes piling up on doorsteps, the sheriff’s office wants to keep your gifts safe.

Their program, “Operation Pinch a Grinch,” allows you to send your packages to one of their district offices, where they will be stored in a locked and protected pod.

Orders must include your name, C/O Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and one of the following addresses:

District III
c/o Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
7202 Gunn Highway
Tampa, FL 33625

District V
c/o Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
10128 Windhorst Road
Tampa, FL 33619

When you’re ready to pick up your package, you’ll need to bring your ID and tracking number.

“Porch pirates on are on the prowl. They know that people are ordering things. They could just be sitting on people’s doorsteps for hours and that really creates a temptation for them to go and snatch those packages,” said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Natalia Verdina. “It helps our office because we’re being proactive. We’re not having to investigate as many of these package thefts, and it helps our residents because they don’t have to go through the headache of getting their package stolen.”

Many homes have doorbell or outdoor cameras. The makers of Ring suggest setting up the alerts on your phone to go off when there’s movement at your door. If someone is there, you can talk to them through a speaker on the camera.

The United States Postal Service has some tips of their own including not leaving packages in mailboxes or doorsteps for long periods of time. If you’re gone for a couple of days, you can use “Hold for Pickup.” Your mail or packages can be held at the local post office until it can get picked up.

You can also give specific instructions to your letter carrier to have them leave packages behind something or around the side of the house, making them hard to see from the street.

>> Follow Marco Villarreal on Facebook

>> Follow Marco Villarreal on Twitter


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss