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Thefts increase during holiday season

Shoppers across the country are forecast to spend more than $720 billion on gifts this holiday season and many will be doing that spending online.

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Shoppers across the country are forecast to spend more than $720 billion on gifts this holiday season and many will be doing that spending online.

The National Retail Federation announced in October that holiday retails sales were projected to reach $720.89 billion. Of those the federation surveyed, a reported 55 percent said they would do their shopping online.

While completing one’s holiday shopping from the comfort of their own living room can be convenient, it can also create headaches when it comes time for delivery. The lead up to the holidays is also a time for increased thefts of packages from front door steps and mailboxes.

From October 2017 through September 2018, 112 cases of USPS customers trying to locate a package that the postal services showed was delivered correctly in Rochester were reported. Of those cases, 20 were reported during the holiday mailing season, according to Kristy L. Anderson, a spokeswoman from the USPS’s Northland-Hawkeye Districts.

"It becomes an issue, particularly around the holiday season when people are having items shipped to their residence for Christmas and things like that," Rochester Police Capt. Casey Moilanen said. "The criminals involved in this type of theft are aware of that."

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Moilanen said it was hard to know exactly how often it happens but said most thefts occurred during the day. Moilanen gave some tips to help those online shoppers avoid a disappointment. His first tip was to have packages shipped to where you will be, such as an office — if allowed. Consider choosing in-store pickup an option, Moilanen said.

If possible, Moilanen said, leave specific instructions on where to place a package. That’s a suggestion the U.S. Postal Service also recommends.

If you know you won’t be home and the package won’t fit in a mailbox, a USPS customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. This can be done through USPS’s website using a package’s tracking number and selecting "Delivery Instructions."

With surveillance technology becoming cheaper and more widely available, Moilanen said installing a camera that monitors a home’s front door may also be a wise investment.

If online shopping is a year-round habit, Moilanen suggested a Post Office box.

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