Residents in the area are advised to take simple steps to avoid falling victim to thefts by “porch hackers” as online shopping becomes a new normal.
A porch hacker is someone who steals packages delivered to people’s homes, and local law enforcement officials call this a crime of expediency.
Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault has urged homeowners to take additional steps to protect their packages.
“I’ve said this every year, but there are things they can do to not stand out during this time of year. Never put on your [Christmas] tree in front of a window where people can see it, ”said Chennault.
Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King and Chennault both said there were not too many cases of “porch hijackers” in the area. However, the number of burglaries and thefts increases at this time of year.
“We’re entering the holiday season, so we’ll see a spike – usually we’ll see a spike in break-ins, porch hacks and things like that,” King said.
TPD crime statistics show that there were 194 thefts in 2019 and that number increased by 128 in 2020. There was actually a decrease in the number of break-ins from 61 during the same period. .
According to ADT Security Services, 36% of Americans have had a package stolen outside of their home.
“If you are leaving and you know packages are being delivered, ask your neighbors or family to check,” Chennault said.
Officers encourage the use of Ring Doorbell or other security devices in which images are transmitted to a resident’s phone in real time.
“They’re inexpensive and reliable when you’re away from home,” Chennault said.
An additional step that online shoppers can take is to have packages delivered to their workplace rather than their home.
“Make sure you secure your house at night, lock your door, and leave your porch light on,” King said. “Make sure your garage door is closed and your cars are locked [and] make it difficult for people to steal from you. “
Those who would like to have a bit of fun with the culprit can set up a “package thief trap” that involves an explosion of glitter when opened.
When shopping for groceries, take a minute to lock gifts and merchandise in the safe and off site to prevent theft.
FedEx also offers tips for preventing package theft: tracking, security cameras, porch boxes, and the FedEx delivery manager.
Chennault has warned those traveling for the holidays that posting plans on social media is just an invitation to thieves.
“We see it every year, and every year people do, but stay away from social media until you get back. Don’t post the photos while you’re away because you’re inviting burglars to your house with it,” Chennault said. .
If area residents are away on vacation and want additional patrols in their homes, they can fill out a form at cityoftahlequah.com. This form is sent to the patrollers, who will periodically monitor the property.