How to stop package theives this holiday season

- The U.S. Census Bureau reported in November that digital sales now accounts for more than 8-percent of all retail, up from roughly 3-percent ten years ago. As e-commerce continues to grow, so should your strategies for making sure purchases arrive into the right hands.

Use a tracking app for your carrier

"You can track almost to the minute or the hour when the package is being delivered," says Officer Barry Curtis of the mobile and web-based package tracking apps provided by carriers like UPS and Fex Ex, "so you can call a neighbor to come by and sit there to wait for you yourself can be there to get that package."

Create custom delivery instructions

Most carrier apps allow you to create custom instructions for the delivery person telling what to do if you aren't going to be there when they arrive. For example, you could list the name of the neighbor who will accept the parcel, or describe the discrete location where you'd like them to place the item.

Re-route the delivery via the carrier's app

Most delivery service apps allow you to re-route a package to the nearest location on the same day it's being delivered.

More companies are popping up offering parcel lockers. Digital codes that let you open and take your item. Amazon, for example, has Amazon Lockers in some north and western suburbs of Houston.

Request a signature for deliveries

FedEx recommends always requesting a signature on deliveries. FedEx users can use their app to digitally sign for packages, acknowledging awareness that the item has been dropped off properly.

In-store pickup

Speaking of pickup, law enforcement highly recommends utilizing in-store pickup when available. It's usually free, and often allows you to designate the name of the individual who is picking up the purchase if it is different than the buyer.

Home owners can get hard-core with package protection

For the hard core home owner who lives for shopping online, consider a parcel lock box for your porch or front steps. They'll run you a couple hundred bucks, but claim any delivery person can place a package in and lock it for you to open when you get home. Most can be mounted directly to your home for security.

A home video camera for the front door is also a few hundred, and can be a huge help to law enforcement.

"It's not necessarily a deterrent but at least it gives us a tip or clue to be able to catch a perpetrator," says Curtis.

Improved technology means clearer video from home surveillance products. Some allow you to speak directly through the camera.

But there's a problem police still have...

Police say that, because retailers are so good about replacing items that never arrive, people are forgetting to notify police when something goes missing. This impacts crime trend data, they say.

"If we don't know that there's a problem in this area, then we may not have extra patrols or targeted patrol for that area," says Curtis, who encourages anyone with a missing package to call their local law enforcement's non-emergency line.

Know another great way to protect your package deliveries during the holidays? Share it with reporter Kaitlin Monte on her Facebook page:

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