CAPE CORAL, Fla. — With holiday shopping well underway and many opting to shop online, this year delivery drivers will be busy, and so will the so-called “porch pirates."
“These porch pirates will take advantage of that, look out for those packages on your doorstep and see what they can take,” said Master Corporal Phil Mullen with the Cape Coral Police Department.
Mullen says they tend to see this sort of crime more during the holidays.
"Holidays are just that much easier, packages are everywhere, delivery trucks are everywhere," said Mullen.
“We’ve heard of people who will follow the trucks, wait for them to drop off that package, and then walk right up and take that package.”
But Mullen says there are steps you can take to outsmart a porch pirate.
“Schedule your package for when you’re going to be there, sometimes you can [tell] them where to leave it, it's doesn't always have to be on your front doorstep, sometimes they'll leave it in places that are more hidden,” said Mullen.
Other tips include having it shipped to your workplace or requiring a signature.
“Most of the time, this is a crime of opportunity; the longer it sits there, the more likely it’s going to be seen, the more likely it’s going to be taken,” said Mullen.
But this year, Coronavirus concerns are making some people hesitant to bring their packages inside right away.
“In general, if it’s a cardboard box, studies have shown the virus can survive on the box for a period of a day,” said Dr. Jay Gupta, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Science at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Dr. Gupta says it's unlikely the virus would survive after going through the mail for several days but does suggest wiping down your packages with a disinfectant.
“I think the greater risk is from the person who is delivering it, so it's better to maintain physical distance," said Dr. Gupta.
While surveillance cameras are not always a sure thing in stopping porch pirates, Mullen says they can help find those responsible.
"If we have no witnesses, no evidence at all of who took your package, it's going to be extremely difficult to try to solve that crime," said Mullen.
"We don't get a crazy amount of them, but it does happen."