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‘Tis the season… for porch pirates

A group of packages sit stacked on a front porch
 Courtesy Billings Police Department’s Facebook page
A group of packages sit stacked on a front porch

Porch pirates continue to plague communities across the U.S., including in Montana.

Boxes disappearing right off your doorstep is especially prevalent this time of year with holiday packages arriving and people spending more time away from home shopping or visiting family.

Yellowstone Public Radio’s Orlinda Worthington shares some tips to keep deliveries safe.

According to SafeWise - a safety and security research company, an estimated 119 million packages were stolen nationwide over the past year — a 5% increase from the previous year.

“We've literally caught people following FedEx trucks around neighborhoods, parking and then just getting out and grabbing packages,” West said.

Sergeant Nate West is with the Billings Police Department. He says to help stop these criminals and minimize package thefts this holiday season they are offering a safe place to have packages delivered.

Starting November 25, packages can be sent to the BPD’s Crime Prevention Center and picked up through December 30th.

Security experts say the top three things everyone can do to deter porch pirates are one - opt into delivery alerts so you know the minute a package hits your doorstep; two - require a signature. This ensures that your package will not be left on the front porch unattended; and three, Sergeant West recommends investing in a video camera.

“Just this week we were able to identify a porch pirate from using somebody's security camera at their house and are going to be pursuing criminal charges against them,” West said.

It’s also a good idea to make a plan with neighbors to keep an eye out for unfamiliar vehicles and people.

Packages can be mailed to:

2910 3rd Ave. N, Billings, MT 59101.

Packages can be picked up there:

Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 3 p.m.Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.Closed Sunday and Christmas Day.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.