Montgomery County Police encourage extra caution for online ‘holiday shopping’ during pandemic

With the pandemic continuing to rage on, many people across the country and in the DMV have given online shopping even more popularity.

And with the holidays fast approaching, police in Montgomery County said Thursday, there is an even bigger concern with people worried about their expensive packages and deliveries getting stolen off their porch. 

DOWNLOAD: The FOX 5 DC News app for local breaking news and weather

Officer Rick Goodale with the police department said that as more and more people are working from home these days because of the pandemic, many are also  beginning to shop for the holidays online.

“People aren’t getting out as much and when they’re having items delivered to their home and they let them sit on the porch for a while it invites the potential for theft,” said Goodale.

READ MORE: Porch pirates stalking delivery drivers in Alexandria neighborhood

One Fox 5 viewer who lives in the District sent us door bell camera video on Thursday, where one man is seen in action, swiping her package from her front door.

In another video, sent to us by the Prince George’s County Police Department from September, one man is seen inspecting his surroundings before taking a package from someone’s front door and hopping over a porch fence. 

According to a survey by SimpliSafe, the average ‘porch pirate’ victim has lost more than $170 due to package theft. 

READ MORE: After porch pirates hit his home, man's church family replace stolen gifts

The consumers also add, they’ve lost three packages during quarantine alone.

“These are a lot of times, strictly a crime of opportunity,” Goodale said. 

“Someone could be driving through a neighborhood to visit a friend and they see a package on the porch, look around, nobody is in sight and they decide to take it.”

Even when there are cameras like Ring or Nest, police said, the technology certainly helps with the investigation but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop thieves from still being able to steal your packages.

“If you can ideally have it delivered to whatever store it’s coming from or maybe pick it up from that store, we know that’s not always possible. People can put delivery instructions like have it delivered to a neighbor who is always home,” said Goodale.

FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan also contacted Amazon, FedEx and UPS for a comment on how they plan to protect customers and provide information on safeguarding their packages from being stolen.

In a statement from Leah Seay, a spokesperson with Amazon, we were told:

On Packages:

- The vast majority of deliveries make it to customers without issue.

- If something occurs, we work with customers directly to make it right.

- Amazon’s customer service is also available ‪24/7 to help customers with any matters related to their package delivery

Amazon also offers, Amazon Hub Locker, Counter, Locker+ and Apartment Locker.

UPS in a statement said:

“We recommend using UPS My Choice to help track and reroute package deliveries and UPS Access Point locations, which offer consumers choice, control, convenience and flexibility over the delivery process. UPS has more than 40,000 Access Points globally at locations including The UPS Store, Michaels, CVS and Advance Auto. Both programs include free options that let consumers keep track of and control over their packages.”

In a statement from FedEx, we were told:

“Any customer who suspects that a package has been stolen should contact police. Customers can also purchase declared value coverage subject to certain limits. 

Consider an alternate destination. When you order something online, consider sending the package to your workplace or to a family member, friend or neighbor who is home during the day to accept delivery or to one of our FedEx OnSite locations throughout the U.S.

Send it to your nearest FedEx Office location. You can have your deliveries sent to the nearest FedEx Office location, and we’ll hold it for you for up to five business days.

Provide delivery instructions. Use FedEx Delivery Manager to provide delivery instructions for your driver.”