Bayonne police set up decoy packages with goal to catch holiday porch pirates
One police department is hoping to catch porch pirates red-handed so that holiday packages end up where they belong.
With more people doing their holiday shopping online because of the pandemic this year, there are more deliveries and more opportunities for porch pirates to take advantage of.
"Packages are being stolen off my front porch," says Scott Williams, of Jersey City.
And that's why Williams is now using the Amazon locker at the Bayonne Quick Check rather than having his packages delivered to his home.
Police say it’s a good idea as they are also doing what they can to crack down on Grinches who are trying to steal Christmas and, even worse, take advantage of COVID-19 restrictions and fears.
"Throughout the city, throughout the state, package thefts occur, but especially around the holiday season," says Bayonne Police Department Captain Eric Amato. "With this pandemic, most people are scared to go to malls because of restrictions and exposure, and that's completely understandable. Unfortunately, these thieves also understand that. So, it's very easy for them."
The department is turning to technology - using decoy packages - with not gifts inside, but GPS trackers.
"The officers would go and place these dummy packages on porches and stoops of random locations thru-out the city, and then conduct surveillance from a nearby location, and watch that package and wait for a thief to strike," Amato says.
The program is working - at least twice - when police arrested someone who took the dummy packages. Police say they recovered other packages stolen from porches, which were returned to the victims.
Police say the program was created for the holiday season but will likely continue year-round.
In addition to using delivery lockers, police also recommend working with neighbors to make sure deliveries don't sit outside for too long.
Residents are also advised to consider using "safe zones," in which local stores that agree to take delivery packages in case one can’t be at home to receive them.