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Delivery services provide options to prevent package theft during holidays

In this 2016 file photo, Renae Ingersoll, postmaster of the Moorhead Post Office, says the heavy shipping season has arrived and package security should be on customers' minds. Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D.—Coming soon to your home or neighborhood — porch pirates. It's possible, and they can spoil the gift-giving tradition of the holiday season.

Minot police say they have already received multiple reports of packages being stolen from residences where they were left after delivery. Sometimes the bold burglars are believed to actually follow delivery trucks to select a target. In past years arrests have been made for theft of property when police can identify a thief or thieves, but the bandits are not always easy to catch.

While watchful neighbors can be particularly helpful in police efforts to stop theft of packages delivered by carriers such as FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, there are some precautions that can be taken by those sending or receiving packages, too.

Police advise that consumers consider "delivery notifications" through various carriers to help with knowing when a package has been delivered so a person "can try to get it off of their step before someone else does."

Federal Express has issued an extensive set of guidelines to help avoid devious porch pirates. Among them is having a package sent to your workplace or to a "family member, friend or neighbor who is home during the day to accept delivery." FedEx also offers delivery to a FedEx location where a package will be held for pick-up for up to five days at no additional cost.

A person can also request that a signature be required for a package to be released or schedule a specific delivery time. Another option is to request deliveries be accompanied by a ringing of a doorbell or a knock on a door to alert a customer to the arrival of a package. FedEx encourages the use of a smart phone app, FedEx Delivery Manager, which can even redirect packages which are enroute to a location.

All of the major carriers have some precautions in place to help avoid package thefts. Most have a "tracking" tool that closely follows the progress of a package from order to delivery point. It allows a person to know when a delivery man is going to place a package on their doorstep.

Also, like FedEx and other carriers, United Parcel Service, or UPS, has ways to help insure that deliveries get directly into the hands of those for whom they are intended. UPS honors requests to "hold for pickup." The request can be made online through UPS My Choice membership. It allows a customer to pick up a package at a UPS location, thereby reducing the risk of having an unattended package left outside a home. UPS My Choice also will send text notifications directly to a customer's smart phone as to the whereabouts of a package in transit.