As most Canadians self-isolate at home to flatten the COVID-19 curve, many are turning to courier services to get food and other consumer products delivered straight to their doorsteps.
In St. Albert, Alta., however, RCMP issued a warning to residents to be on the lookout for so-called "porch pirates" — thieves who snatch packages off front steps and who aren't worried about extra eyes and ears in a neighbourhood.
It's a crime of opportunity and right now, it's like Christmas time with more and more parcels around people's porches," says Cst. M.J. Burroughs, who works in Crime Prevention and Victim Services in St. Albert. "
At-home deliveries are increasing because people are staying home so we thought there could be an increase in that type of activity."
If residents are victims of a property crime or have witnessed porch pirates at work, Burroughs urges them to call the police.
We want to know where they are happening so we can map trends and see who offenders are targeting and when," she says.
To discourage these types of crimes, Burroughs offers these tips.
Keep the lights on
Have a well-lit front porch or deck to deter thieves. A visible and working video camera is often enough to discourage some people from stealing property.
Plan for deliveries
Deliveries usually come with a tracking number. Follow the package's progress and be home when it's scheduled to arrive. Arrange for a neighbour to accept the package if you can't be there.
Ask couriers to require a signature upon a parcel's delivery, if it can be done safely. Burroughs says in the midst of a pandemic, creative steps may be needed to accomplish this, such as requiring people to wear gloves and masks, and practising physical distancing.
Select a pick-up location
Instead of having packages shipped to a home, ask to have parcels delivered to an alternate secure pick-up location.