HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - The holiday season is prime time for package thieves to steal gifts left outside homes.
In the last 12 months, Safewise estimates 210 million packages were stolen from porches across America. According to Safewise, San Antonio and Austin are ranked in the top 10 worst metro cities for package theft in 2021. Houston ranked outside of the top 10.
"Our crooks want to be able to give presents to their families as well," said Harris County Pct. 1 Constable Alan Rosen. "Rather than go out and earn it, and pay for it, they’re stealing it."
Local law enforcement says they’re prepared for what some call "porch pirate season". In the weeks leading up to the holidays, thieves target and steal package deliveries left outside homes.
In 2020, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office started deploying boxes filled with tracking devices. According to deputies, they’ll be using this tactic again to try and catch thieves.
According to Rosen, they’re working with shipping companies to locate hot spots for stolen packages. In these areas, they’ll use additional deputies with marked and unmarked vehicles to patrol.
"This year, we’re working with our delivery companies," said Rosen. "They keep track of when packages are stolen. We’re comparing our data and finding the hot spots for theft of packages."
In Harris County Precinct 4, they’re also patrolling neighborhoods. In 2020, their office arrested a woman accused of following a FedEx truck and stealing packages left outside homes.
"That’s just one small example, of some of these efforts that have produced beneficial results," said Harris County Pct. 4 Constable Captain Jonathan Zitzmann.
Safewise estimates 64% of Americans had a package taken from them in the last 12 months. In 2019, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 37 that can make package theft a felony.
"We’re going to come after you," said Harris County Assistant District Attorney William Cowardin. "These cases are going to be treated very seriously. When you’re sitting in front of a jury of 12 of your peers, every one of them is also a victim. Hopefully, people will take that into consideration and do the right thing."