Preventing package thefts: Seattle Police’s advice for what you can do, plus another local case

Earlier this week, one of our West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports featured video of a package thief, carrying the loot down the street. So what can you do to prevent, or at least deter, someone like him? The newest newsletter from the Southwest and South Precincts‘ Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon answers that question (ADDED AT END – a new reader report of local package theft):

Package thefts are crimes of opportunity. Thieves will follow or watch for FedEx, UPS, US Mail and other delivery trucks and then target a home after a delivery is made. Often packages are simply left at the doorstep of the home and in plain view of the street. Package thefts from doorstops and front porches during the day usually increase between the months of October and January. There are steps you can take to be proactive in keeping your package safe from theft. To reduce the chances of being victimized by package delivery thieves, we offer the following advice:

Tracking and Delivery

*Track your shipment: All of the major delivery companies offer package tracking, some providing free alerts letting you know where your package is in the shipping process.

*Choose a shipping option that requires you to sign for delivery.

*Arrange to have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it. This could be your workplace, a friend or relative’s home, with a trusted neighbor, the leasing office at your apartment complex or even the local “mailbox” business that may agree to accept shipment of your item for a fee.

*Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local shipping facility.

*You can buy locking bins that your packages can be stored in safely until you return home to retrieve them. You just give the key code to the delivery company so they can store the package and use your key code to retrieve it. While locking bins are an option, it is recommended you bolt the locking bin down so that it can’t be carted away. Also, be mindful that these locking bins run $500-$800 on average.

*If none of the above are viable options, at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location not visible from the street.

Package Not Received or You Suspect Theft
*If you do not receive your shipment on time, check with the company of origin and confirm the delivery. If something you ordered cannot be located, contact the sender of the package to initiate a trace process. The sender will then follow up with you on the progress of your shipment.

*If the item was delivered and you did not receive it, report the theft or loss to the original company, the shipping company, and the Seattle Police Department’s non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

*Many package thefts occur during daylight hours. As always, be alert to suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, especially if you see a delivery truck making the rounds and a vehicle following behind or unfamiliar subjects on foot or on your neighbor’s property. Be prepared to call 911. Your calls do have an impact on crime and criminals.

Delivery Company Liability

*Once the package has been delivered, whether signed for or not, it’s no longer the shipping company’s responsibility. Bottom line, if the package is stolen after delivery, that’s on you, not them; the delivery company is not liable.

Also in this newsletter – which you can read in its entirety here as a PDF – advice on how to handle problem neighbors.

ADDED: Regarding package theft – this reader report from Beef came in today:

Someone stole a package off my porch yesterday afternoon around 1ish. I live near 9th and Kenyon in HP. My neighbor saw the guy doing it. Lanky white guy, no shirt, in a white SUV. I believe he got the license plate number. He called it in to the police. Officer Clouse came out and put together an incident report. #2015-342277.

11 Replies to "Preventing package thefts: Seattle Police's advice for what you can do, plus another local case"

  • LS October 1, 2015 (8:14 pm)

    Wednesday morning three USPS boxes were found dropped off during the night in the bed of my parked vehicle on 48th SW between Dawson & Hudson which I took to and turned over to police at the precinct.

  • AIDM October 1, 2015 (8:45 pm)

    Unless they can verify delivery with photo proof the last part about liability is bunk for a company with good customer service like Amazon. I once had a package that was missing and was “confirmed” as being delivered, then a neighbor with the same address one street over brought it to our house. It had been delivered to them by accident, but there is no way to log or have knowledge of incorrect deliveries. Don’t necessarily believe that a “confirmed delivery” ever got to your doorstep as mistakes ramp up with the holiday season also.

  • AMD October 1, 2015 (9:44 pm)

    I think they were referring to the delivery companies’ liability (USPS, UPS, FedEx). Yes, many companies like Amazon will send another item if your shipment doesn’t get to you, but that’s a separate thing than delivery liability. The post office isn’t going to be the one paying for your second Amazon shipment if the box they delivered is stolen.

  • WS Wanderer October 1, 2015 (10:33 pm)

    Amazon has (free) locked boxes where deliveries can be made securely. The one in WS that I’m aware of is at the 7-Eleven on Admiral.

    While shipping co’s sometimes won’t ship to PO boxes, there are mail services that, for a small monthly fee, will accept your packages at their secure location. There’s one on California near the admiral Safeway. Alki Mail might do the same…

  • Kathleen Brennan October 2, 2015 (6:57 am)

    We’ve had great service from Mailbox West in Morgan Junction. Also, there’s an Amazon Locker in the 7-11 on Delridge near Westwood Village.

  • HelperMonkey October 2, 2015 (11:56 am)

    Amazon has a very unhelpful policy of writing “CARRIER – LEAVE IF NO RESPONSE” on their labels which has resulted in one laptop sitting outside all weekend (I have packages delivered to my office to avoid potential theft) and another order being completely stolen when it was delivered on a weekend. Amazon doesn’t seem to think there is anything wrong with this policy – I’ve made many frustrated phone calls with regard to this issue. yes, they’ll reimburse you for your stolen order, but it’s frustrating all the same that this is their company line. Preventing package theft? A good place to start would be Amazon and other shippers requiring signatures for delivery – no exceptions.

  • Seaview October 2, 2015 (4:30 pm)

    Occasionally when we get a fill-in USPS person, the jackass is too lazy to open our gate and throws the package over into the grass. It’s now happened 3 times…

  • Scott October 2, 2015 (5:33 pm)

    The Amazon lock boxes are great for an AMazon order. Probably one close to work or home. I use the Delridge 7-11.

  • Victor October 3, 2015 (9:07 am)

    We have had good luck in avoiding package theft since we posted the following note on our front porch:

    Delivery Personnel:
    Please leave all packages at the back door

  • ~Hockeywitch~ October 3, 2015 (3:03 pm)

    This is exactly why I got a PMB at the UPS Store. Packages left at my apt door were being stolen. Anything larger than a letter sized envelope goes to my PMB. PLUS, they notify me by text/email when a package has been delivered. if you order a lot of things to be delivered, I highly recommend getting one there or somewhere.
    It’s really sad that we have to leave notes, get PMB/PO Boxes etc these days..

  • David October 10, 2015 (12:15 am)

    I’m a delivery driver and I always deliver the package where it’s not visible from the street but viable to the customer and post a comment on the scanner where I left the package

Sorry, comment time is over.