The app-based neighborhood forum NextDoor is flooded with complaints about disappearing deliveries. Some streets have "porch pirates," known for swiping Amazon boxes before the intended recipient brings them inside.
The package theft problem has become increasingly prevalent as more and more people do their shopping online. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that eight in 10 people are online shoppers now, compared to just two in 10 in 2000.
Dee Dee Gunther, public information officer with the Roseville Police Department, said she sees a few package thefts per month, but expects to see more in December.
“Unfortunately this has become a fairly common kind of theft," Gunther said, "and it does tend to increase during the holiday period, because people are ordering a lot more things and the thieves know that.”
That's why Roseville and other departments have launched 'bait package' programs to help prevent porch piracy. They place tagged decoy boxes outside homes—with the owners’ permission—and wait for someone to approach.
Once a package has been scooped up, officers get an alert and try to make an arrest.
Gunther says they may keep the bait package in place year-round.
She and other officials recommend communicating with your neighbors when you're expecting a delivery, so that they can bring the package in for you. Alarms and camera systems can help you keep an eye on packages and deter thefts.
If possible, police recommend having packages sent to the workplace or somewhere else you can receive them in person.