Porch pirates are lurking around central Alberta’s neighbourhoods this holiday season, waiting for delivery vans to make drop-offs, so they can steal parcels from doorways.
With more people ordering Christmas gifts from online retailers, parcel thefts are becoming all-too common, said Const. Derek Turner, of Red Deer RCMP’s community policing division.
“Everybody’s getting things delivered, and there are more (theft) opportunities,” said Turner. While he doesn’t have hard data on the frequency of these crimes, Turner hears reports on a weekly basis.
He believes parcel thefts can be premeditated — with thieves following delivery vans around — or crimes of opportunity.
“If you’re that kind of person, and you see a delivery truck, you can wait to see what they are doing and then jump in there…”
Rather than allowing boxes to be left outside when you aren’t home, he advises pre-arranging a signing requirement so these parcels can’t just be dropped off on your doorstep.
Sometimes, deliveries can be re-routed to a work address. Some delivery truck drivers will text recipients with approximate drop-off times, or will provide an alternate pick-up location for the parcel.
Turner said it’s always good to notify neighbours who you know well of a delivery — they might agree to watch out for the truck and take the parcel in until you return home.
Thieves can’t know what’s inside stolen boxes. But whether it’s electronics, clothing or books, Turner believes thieves will try to sell the items.
He’s hoping another crime — phone scamming — will be on the decrease since new requirements took effect Thursday requiring phone companies to stop irregular numbers from making people’s phones ring.
Companies must either install blocking technology for numbers with more than 15 digits, or that can’t be dialed (000-000-0000), or they must offer subscribers filtering services with advanced call management features.
But only scam calls with blatantly fake numbers will be blocked. Calls made by scammers who are “spoofing” real numbers will still be able to get through until additional rules take effect on Sept. 30 2020.
Turner is hoping to see a significant reduction in money loss through phone scams. But the police officer doesn’t believe scammers can entirely be stopped. The more sophisticated the call-blocking technology, the better they will get at finding ways to get through to unsuspecting people, he added.
He recommends Red Deer-area residents take their own precautions: Don’t believe in offers or so-called prizes that sound too good to be true, or that require any kind of payment — and never give out social insurance numbers, credit card or banking information over the phone.
Turner said the Canada Revenue Agency and banks don’t make aggressive, threatening phone calls. If people are trying to bully you, hang up.
He also recommends thoroughly researching the online presence of anyone who claims to represent a business or charity before handing over money.