The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that it will be ramping up efforts to head off package thefts across the county as the holiday season moves forward. Officers will be utilizing …
The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that it will be ramping up efforts to head off package thefts across the county as the holiday season moves forward. Officers will be utilizing decoy packages to help track down thieves.
“Beyond catching porch pirates who come into our neighborhoods to snatch our holiday packages, our goal is to also deter this activity from taking place by letting would-be package thieves know that we’re out here,” said HCSO Burglary and Theft Investigator Javier Ureña.
Burglary and Theft Unit investigators will be placing multiple decoy packages with a tracking device on residential porches to help investigators receive an alert then follow the package in real time. When a thief opens the stolen package, a tablet in the parcel will begin taking pictures of the suspect automatically.
The operation will target the most at-risk areas in Harris County identified via theft reports and tips from shipping companies. Last week, Ureña led an initiative in the Westlake community near Katy and although no “porch pirates” took the bait, it allowed investigators to test their new equipment, an HCSO press release said.
The department encourages residents to take steps to avoid packages being stolen such as signing up for tracking notifications, retrieving parcels as soon as they are delivered or requiring signatures for delivery. Alternately, having pakcages delivered to delivery locations such as Amazon Hub Locker locations or postal businesses can deter theft as well.
HCSO is expecting an increase in deliveries and related thefts this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said.
Mail theft is a federal offense punishable with up to five years in prison and fines, the press release said. Harris County residents can call HCSO at 713-221-6000 to report stolen packages. Those outside of Harris County should contact their city police department or county sheriff’s office for assistance.
“This is one example of many proactive policing efforts aimed at reducing crime in our communities,” Ureña said.