The Investigators: Mid-South porch pirate thefts have increased along with online shopping purchases

What to do to prevent a theft or if you become a victim

Porch pirates target holiday deliveries

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More people are shopping online this holiday season and so, porch pirate thefts are on the rise.

Some areas in the Mid-South are reporting multiple thefts each day.

You have seen it play out on TV, social media and online neighborhood watch groups: a thief walks up to someone’s home in broad daylight and makes off with a freshly delivered package.

It happened to an East Memphis woman last Friday.

A package was delivered to Carol Welch’s home that morning.

“As I’m walking into the kitchen he looks into the window and we made eye contact. He saw me!” Welch told The Investigators.

That didn’t stop the thief from taking a Christmas present off her front porch.

“It was simply an order of makeup from Sephora,” she said. “So, I hope he enjoys that.”

“How much online ordering have you done so far?” Asked The Investigators.

“Since the pandemic started, we’ve done a lot more, and then with Christmas, it has increased. We get packages probably five out of seven days a week,” Welch said.

A report published by Adobe Analytics forecasts that for the 2020 holiday season, online sales will surpass two billion dollars a day; an all-time online sales record, according to the company.

“It’s no secret that we’re all ordering more,” Amy Nagy, spokesperson for SimpliSafe, a home security system company, said.

She said now, more than ever, homeowners are looking to protect the purchases placed on their porches.

“In a year like 2020, we don’t need more to worry about. We don’t need to worry that the Christmases we’re trying to create for our loved ones, that are going to look much different this year, are going to be snatched off the front porch,” Nagy said.

SimpliSafe, Nest, Ring, and other, similar companies sell home video cameras with an alert system that tells you when a package is delivered.

“Does it really deter the crime from happening?” Asked The Investigators.

“There are individuals who that is enough for and they will walk away. Unfortunately, there are others who will still perhaps go for it,” she said. “What you have with a security system like SimpliSafe is the evidence to see who did it and share it with your local police force or neighbors. Oftentimes, these people are recognized and stopped before it happens again.”

Home surveillance cameras captured a set of porch pirates back in November.

The homeowner sent the images to Memphis Police, who then connected the thief and his driver to multiple thefts across Memphis.

“Video is crucial. We get the suspect’s face, we get his vehicle, it’s great. We love it,” Col. Joe Oakley with the Mt. Moriah Station in East Memphis said.

In November, Col. Oakley’s precinct recorded 38 porch pirate reports - more than one a day.

He expects that number to go up in December.

“Do you all investigate every porch pirate incident?” Asked The Investigators.

“Yes, we do investigate. Even a porch pirate. They’ll follow the Amazon or the UPS driver and when that delivery guy makes the drop of the package, they’ll wait a second, and then they’ll come up behind them and get it,” he said.

To protect your packages and presents this holiday season, track your package so you know when it’s going to arrive. Amazon allows you to track real-time.

If you won’t be home, have the package delivered to your work, put a hold on your mail with the US Postal Service, or have a neighbor grab the package for you.

When ordering from Amazon, you can select a pick-up location like at an Amazon Locker. The company also offers in-garage delivery services.

As for Welch, she filed a police report.

While USPS will not replace stolen packages, Welch is relieved makeup was taken and not something more valuable.

“I just wish I would’ve jerked that door open and just scared him and made him think for just a hot second what he was doing,” Welch said. “You just get so aggravated at people doing dishonest things.”

If one of your packages is stolen, file a police report. Then, your best bet is to reach out to the company where you ordered the item.

Amazon may replace or refund items that are stolen by porch pirates.

As for other companies, it’s a case-by-case basis but worth a call.

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