JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Online shopping has made it easier than ever to buy holiday gifts for everyone on your list. But it's also made it easier for Grinches to steal your deliveries before you even get home.
Authorities across the country are warning of crooks who are targeting front porches, and even following delivery trucks, so they can swipe your gifts.
"It's definitely a crime of opportunity. These individuals just drive around looking at porches and walk up, take it and walk away," said Jacksonville Sheriff's Offices spokesman Christian Hancock.
As of Wednesday, 12 packages had been reported stolen in the last 2 weeks, according to JSO.
"It tends to be a problem more in the holidays than it is during the rest of the year," Hancock said.
It's a big problem that can cause you a lot of frustration. But there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
You can have the package delivered to your workplace, instead of your home address. You can also tell the delivery company to hide it on your property, or not to drop it off unless you're home.
"It may be worth going to that extra effort if you have some valuable packages that your know are going to be coming to your home," said Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst.
Neighbors should also watch out for each other and keep an eye out for suspicious activity, Smith said.
"If they are driving slowly, especially if they are not too far away from a delivery truck, it wouldn't hurt just to memorize the tag number and write it down. And if something does come up missing, you can report that to police," Smith said.
Online retail giant Amazon.com has taken measures to cut down on package thefts, recently putting in more than a dozen lockers in the Jacksonville-area. You can choose to ship the items to one near your home and then pick them up using a special PIN and bar code.
A company representative told News4Jax Wednesday that it's a safe, secure and convenient for customers.
Online shopper Clinton Bailey said he'll probably use the service when he places his next order.
"I think it's great. This is the next generation of pick up and delivery. And right now you can't beat it," Bailey said.
Delivery companies, such as UPS and FedEx, also also offer the option of holding onto your packages of one of their delivery hubs. Then you can stop by, show your ID and pick them up.
If you think you had one of your packages stolen, don't just tell the company, but also let law enforcement know as well. That way, police can increase patrols in your neighborhood and hopefully catch the crooks.