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Not-So-Merry - Thieves Pilfer Holiday Packages

POSTED December 11, 2012 9:18 p.m.

The best part about the digital age is the ease with which retailers make it for consumers to do a large portion of their shopping from the comfort of their living room via the Internet. Emarketers estimated that Internet shopping will account for 24.3 percent of all U.S. retail spending during the traditional holiday season (November-December) and judging by the number of times the UPS, FedEx, and other mail carriers have been rumbling down city streets, that estimate seems on target.

While shopping online is convenient, new troubles have been plaguing consumers in the form of porch or deck thievery as their packages are plucked right from the front door before the consumer even knows it’s there.

There have been multiple reports of packages being stolen all over the city and the county area of Oakdale as thieves with sticky fingers have found a new and particularly Grinchy way of ruining someone’s holiday.

“It’s rampant all over — and not just during the holidays,” said Det. Max Messina of the Oakdale Police Department. “It’s all the time and it’s getting worse.”

Phyllis Meltzer, an Oakdale resident, believes her packages were stolen in a coordinated effort by the thieves as they waited for the mail carrier to leave the package and then after they’d snatched the package, left an empty, decoy box in its stead.

“I think they’re watching for packages as they’re delivered,” Meltzer said.

Neighborhood Watch groups have been rallying together to help each other protect their belongings, encouraging all who’ve been victimized to contact the police department and report the theft immediately.

Messina said the best way to protect your holiday online purchases is to have them delivered to a PO Box or your place of employment.

“You need something more secure than your mailbox, unless it’s a locked mailbox,” he said. “If possible, have your packages delivered at work. Anytime you have something delivered to an unsecure location, you run the risk of thieves targeting your delivery.”

Items such as Christmas décor have also been targeted. One resident on Morris Hunter Drive had their blow-up Christmas train taken during the night. The resident believes it was sometime after 9 p.m. because that’s when she shut the décor down for the evening. Another resident awoke one morning and found her Christmas décor lying on the ground with evidence that someone had tried to take them but the lights were on a timer and may have scared the thieves away before they could abscond with the lawn decorations.

Police urge residents to be extra vigilant this holiday season to help guard against Grinchy thieves as they look for easy victims.

Also, anyone who believes they’ve been victimized is urged to report the crime to the police department at 209-847-2231.

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