Arizonans among most vulnerable to ‘porch pirates’

Posted

Online shopping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 is projected to increase to $136 billion, a 13% jump from 2018.

But a new study shows nearly 40% of consumers have been victims of package theft and holiday shoppers in Arizona are the ninth most at-risk state.

Driven by Amazon, the package delivery industry is expected to reach $107 billion. This has created a new avenue for criminals and coined the term “porch pirate.”

“Certainly, every neighborhood is different, and only those who live there will know their own comfort level for things like leaving their doors unlocked or, in this case, leaving packages on their porches or front steps,” said Haley Helms, a spokeswoman for Security.org. “However, we’ve all seen the viral videos of porch thieves grabbing packages within seconds, so your own intuition may not be enough to keep your purchases secure, even if your neighborhood has historically been a safe one.”

Security.org released its study on States Most At-Risk For Package Theft using the most recent data on larceny thefts from buildings from the FBI as well as survey results from more than 1,000 consumers across the country.

Arizona’s No. 9 ranking is based of its 2,107 larceny thefts per 100,000 residents. Tucson outdid the state and was among the top 25 in the country for larceny thefts.

Washington D.C. is most at-risk, with 3,650.40 larceny thefts per 100,000 residents. New Mexico is right behind the nation’s capitol. Among the safest are New England states of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Larceny from buildings is the third most common type of theft, accounting for 10.6% of all cases, Security.org’s study found. Larceny from vehicles is No. 1 at 34.2% and shoplifting is No. 2 at 20.8%.

The study found 89% of larceny thefts occur in major metro areas.

The four most common ways to prevent package thefts are to install doorbell camera (29%), install outdoor camera (23%), have packages sent to another address (17%) and get a security system (12%).

Other suggested solutions: Give letter carrier a key, schedule deliveries when you are home, deliver packages to your workplace, or use an Amazon locker.

“In practice, the key suggestion might not work too well (or may even be against post office policy), but we found it interesting nonetheless and indicative of a level of trust in the USPS,” Ms. Helms said. “Our survey allowed users to enter their own suggestions for keeping packages safe, whether they were things they’d done themselves or represent theoretical solutions.”

Earlier this year, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office busted a woman in connection to a porch pirate incident in Litchfield Park.

The original theft had actually occurred Sept. 6, 2018, but tips led MCSO to identify and arrest Cindy Erika Fuentes Arvizo, 33, on Feb. 27 near 75th Avenue and Indian School Road.

MCSO had first received a report about an Amazon delivery that had gone missing from the recipient’s front porch. Authorities then worked to identify the suspect’s vehicle and where she resided.

“Incidences of so-called ‘porch pirate’ thefts are on the increase and MCSO will continue to be vigilant in pursuing and arresting those who commit this crime,” MCSO stated in a March news release. “Recipients can do their part by tracking packages to be home when they are delivered if possible or by having packages delivered to a secure area of your residence or to a neighbor or office.”

Last November, MCSO, Silent Witness and other agencies began to partner up and encourage their communities to combat holiday package thefts, also often known as “porch pirates,” prior to the holiday shopping season that began with Black Friday and ended around New Year’s Day.

Phoenix police also arrested two suspects in December after a victim told officers she had multiple packages delivered to her residence Nov. 27 and one was stolen.

Authorities had been rewarding witnesses with $500 if their information led to the identity or arrest of a theft suspect.

Anyone with information on crimes under investigation by MCSO can always call 602-876-8477 or email tips@mcso.maricopa.gov.

Where can “porch pirating” get you?

In July 2018, a 38-year-old man from Corpus Christi, Texas was handed a three-year prison term for stealing packages from residents between Dec. 31, 2017 and Jan. 8, 2018.

At the sentencing, the court noted the four counts against Christopher Escobedo represented only the victims with camera surveillance on their porches and that Mr. Escobedo likely stole from other people.

“As a result of investigative efforts, the sentence handed down in this case will send a clear message to mail thieves that they will be vigorously pursued and brought to justice,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “An important part of the USPIS mission is to ensure public trust in the mail and to defend the nation’s mail system from illicit financial gain.”

Comments