JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The unofficial kickoff of the holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and delivery companies are warning about a potential spike in porch piracy.
Studies show porch thefts have increased in the last two years, and they happen even more during the Christmas shopping season as more gifts are delivered and left outside front doors.
Brad Thomas was a victim of porch piracy. Surveillance video shows the thief snagging the packages that contained birthday gifts for his two kids.
"We had to reorder that. Luckily, they did ship it to us, but it wasn't shipped in time," Thomas said. "So, we had to tell our kids what their presents were, and we didn't get to give it to them on their birthday."
Research conducted by Insurance Quotes shows in 2017, nearly 26 million packages were stolen from front porches. That's up from 23.5 million reported in 2015.
The majority of the packages were stolen during the daytime, and victims spent an estimated $200 to replace those stolen packages.
Police say in some cases, thieves will follow a delivery truck to a home and watch to see if a package is handed over or placed at the door. After the truck leaves, they walk up and swipe the goods if they're left outside.
Christie Groff routinely shops online and has items delivered to her home. Recently, she received a confirmation photo of a package after it was delivered, but the package was gone when she went to take it inside.
"I just reordered. I assumed that it was gone, and I reordered at my own expense," Groff said. "Hearing from neighbors, (it) makes me wonder if someone did pick it up."
UPS and FedEx advise customers to have packages shipped to one of their stores. John Nardi, the owner of a UPS Store in Miramar, recommends his customers take precautions.
"We have people who have mailboxes at our store, and that's the only reason why," Nardi said. They don't want stuff going to their home for security reasons."
Experts say another safe bet is to have your items shipped directly to your office, if possible.