If you’ve ever lived in a large condo building, you’ll probably have seen piles of Amazon packages sitting in the lobby around the mailboxes.
My building has this situation. They just sit there, unprotected, sometimes for days at a time before the people waiting for them come down to claim them.
T.M. – a Metrotown condo dweller – says this is the situation in his building and it’s meant an increase in crime.
The twist is that the crime is being perpetrated by someone who actually lives in the building.
“The past few years have been a nightmare,” T.M. said. “One of our neighbours is walking into the mailbox area and rifling through all of the packages that are sitting there. Then he is taking the best stuff. I’ve walked by a few times and seen the empty boxes on the floor. A few of my neighbours say they’ve come down and found just an empty package. We don’t know who it is because they wear a mask and a hat and know the angle of the security camera – not that anyone is even checking on this because our strata council members are useless. It’s been going on and people seem to shrug their shoulders. The balls on this guy.”
Crime is bad enough to deal with when it’s strangers, but when it’s your own neighbours that is just infuriating and depressing.
This is a time of year when crime definitely goes up. Christmas means lots of shopping, with more and more people doing it online.
That’s led to the proliferation of porch pirates and they are even more protected now because it’s not an unusual sight to see someone wearing a mask.
“With a little forethought, we can do a lot to keep ourselves safe from Christmas crooks,” says Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, in a statement. “We especially have to thwart porch pirates who follow delivery trucks and steal packages within minutes of delivery. If you see a crime in action, call 9-1-1 or the local police. And if you have information about what nefarious deeds somebody’s up to, but want to remain anonymous, call us at Crime Stoppers by phone, online, or through our “P3” smartphone app.”
Here are some tips from Crime Stoppers to protect yourself at this time of year:
- So many packages, so many porches. Easy pickings! If you’re not able to watch for your delivery, ask neighbours to help watch. You can return the favour for them too.
- Close your blinds and have home video security cameras watch for deliveries and crooks. Feed the images to your smartphone. Maybe you’ll spot a crook stealing your Christmas lawn display.
- Think twice before clicking “yes” on that online shopping cart. Organized retail crime costs Canadians almost $5 billion a year, so buy from established businesses, not unknown sources. Shoplifted or stolen goods may be sold online or through flea markets, with the money often going to gangs dealing in drugs or illegal weapons.
- On vacay? Maybe think about posting that selfie as a “#latergram.” Remember, your post tells the whole world you’re not at home. Hope you have a good home security package!
- 65-inch TV just in time for Super Bowl? Great, but hide all that cardboard until you recycle it. Boxes from expensive gifts “outside” your house tell thieves the expensive gift can be found just “inside”.
- Etch it - mark your property in case it’s stolen. Ask local police to help etch your property with your driver’s license number. Also photograph valuables showing their make, model and serial number.
TIPS - DOWNTOWN AND AT THE MALL
- Your car is not supposed to be a mall for thieves. Before you lock up your car, leave nothing visible inside. Not even pocket change or empty bottles or cans.
- Keep it “light”. Find a busy, well-lit section of the parking lot and lock your gifts out of sight in the trunk.
- Leave your garage door opener at home or in your pocket. A thief who takes your remote sitting from your console, and finds your address from something in the car, considers that an open invitation to come check out your garage!
- Watch your pockets in the mall - Keep purses and wallets where you can keep track of them and thwart pickpockets who look to take advantage while jostling with holiday crowds.