A little give and take

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, December 3, 2015

‘Tis the season for giving — and taking.

In the coming days, Cyber Monday’s record-breaking $3 billion in online sales will show up as packages on porches and in mailboxes across the country. The U.S. Postal Service projects the holiday surge to peak Dec. 21, when more than 30 million packages nationwide are out for delivery.

Boxes left on porches can be an invitation for less-than-upstanding folks, said Sgt. Gary Myrick, a detective with the Suffolk Police Department. Police across the country typically see an increase in reports of boxes swiped off porches if deliveries are made when no one is home.


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In some areas, the authorities have reported instances of thieves following delivery trucks around and stealing the packages within minutes of delivery.

“We do tend to see more incidents of this during the holidays,” Myrick said.

With its busiest days ahead, the Postal Service will ramp up delivery efforts and hours in ZIP code areas that traditionally experience the higher package volume around the holidays, said Freda Sauter, spokeswoman for the USPS’ Richmond District.

The only ZIP codes in Western Tidewater affected are 23434, which covers the downtown Suffolk area, and 23430, which is in and around Smithfield.

Through the holidays, mail carriers will start making package deliveries as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m. weekdays, and as early as 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Parcels may also be delivered by regular carriers during normal delivery hours, Monday through Saturday, Sauter said. But extra deliveries will only be made when there are enough extra parcels to justify the extra route, she said.

The early, late and Sunday deliveries will not include customers’ regular letter and magazine or catalog mail, Sauter said.

The USPS, FedEx and UPS websites suggest some strategies to fight package theft:

  • Reduce the risk by not leaving packages and deliveries waiting on porches, particularly for extended time periods.
  • If you are planning to be out of town, arrange for shipments to be held at the post office, shipped to an alternate address or have a neighbor look out for deliveries.
  • If you work every day, have the package shipped to the office.
  • Invest in tracking options offered through the shippers. Tracking lets both shipper and recipient monitor a package’s status from the point of origin to final delivery via the shipper’s website. Some shippers send registered users text alerts on mobile devices once a delivery is made.
  • Issue special delivery instructions. For example, tell the driver to leave the package at a local post office for pickup or to leave it in a specific, less-conspicuous place, such as a back porch or under a carport.
  • Require a signature. Either the shipper or recipient can make the request.
  • Plan for the worst-case scenario. Pay a little extra to insure the package and keep track of your receipts; they will be necessary if you should have to file a reimbursement claim.