Right now may be one of the busiest times for shipping gifts throughout the country, but it's also an opportunity for thieves to spot an easy target and score some holiday loot of their own. The Chico post office sees roughly 50,000 incoming packages a week during the holidays. On Monday, employees filled 5 tractor trailers with more than 75,000 outgoing parcels to be delivered all over the U.S. Chico Postmaster Ann Glynn says mail thefts tend to be more common during this time of year, so carriers always have to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
"People will see our trucks, the other delivery service trucks, and they will actually follow behind us and watch. So we're always very aware of what's going on behind us as well," she says.
One way to avoid having packages stolen from off your front porch is to plan ahead. Whether you're sending something out or expecting a delivery, you can let the mail carrier know whether you want it left in a specific spot or if you'd rather pick it up from the post office in person. You can also track your mail online to figure out when it will be arriving, but if you're not home when it arrives it's best to have a backup plan.
"If they can go ahead and make arrangements either to be home to receive the package or have a neighbor check or a family member to see that there's no package left on the porch," says Glynn.
During the holidays mail carriers will often make parcel runs until 7 p.m. So with the darkness providing cover for thieves it's best to have a designated hiding spot for your packages when they get delivered. If you want to be extra cautious, you can install security cameras and put up signs letting thieves know that they're crime won't go unnoticed.
We spoke with the Chico Police Department and Butte County Sheriff's Office, and while both say they haven't seen any major spikes in mail theft, they also say that a lot of these types of incidents go unreported.