The hunt is still on for a holiday package thief who police say has stolen deliveries from the front of houses in Malverne, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream and Elmont.
Malverne Police Chief John Aresta said there have been five such thefts since Nov. 11, with the latest happening Friday in Malverne.
“We had some last year but not to this level,” said Aresta, whose department has taken the lead in publicizing the crimes by thieves sometimes called “porch pirates.”
“It’s a crime of opportunity,” Aresta said, since there are a lot of deliveries during the holiday season, especially with the increase in online shopping. “It’s very easy.”
Police have captured the white Chevrolet van the man has been using in the thefts on surveillance video, Aresta said.
The culprit could be an actual delivery driver or just posing as one, he said, noting the suspect’s van had no company markings on it.
Some flower and other delivery companies use plain vans, Aresta said, so the suspect could be a delivery driver doing some criminal mischief on the side.
The thief, who’s been hitting Malverne and the surrounding area, walks up to the houses with a package as if he’s making a delivery, but the box is filled with garbage or used clothes or shoes. He then leaves with one of the other packages that had been delivered to the home.
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“We had four instances and we had another one Friday,” Aresta said. “We have video of the same van going up to the door and then leaving.”
In the latest case, the suspect walked up to the Malverne home with a package filled with old clothing, Aresta said. The package used to hold the clothing was one of the packages stolen earlier from a Rockville Centre house.
“He’s stealing packages and then putting [old items and garbage] in those packages,” Aresta said.
Suffolk County police said they have had no reports of package thefts outside homes yet this season, though they are well aware that these crimes do happen at this time of year.
Residents should be “vigilant during the holiday season as the number of packages delivered and left outside of homes dramatically increases due to online gift shopping,” said Suffolk Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers in a statement.
Anyone with information on the thefts in Malverne, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream and Elmont is urged to call Malverne police at 516-599-3141. For incidents in other communities, contact your local police department.
Earlier this year insurancequotes.com commissioned a study to determine the frequency of certain holiday hazards, including thieves swiping deliveries from unattended front porches.
The company said 25.9 million Americans “have had a holiday package delivery stolen from a front porch or doorstep. This is up from 23.5 million porch thefts uncovered in our 2015 survey on the same topic.”
Here are some tips to help prevent packages from being stolen outside your home from the U.S. Postal Service, Malverne and Suffolk police and insurancequotes.com:
- Have packages delivered to a stay-at-home neighbor or to your business or workplace, where someone is available to receive it.
- Request the shipping company or the post office to hold items until you can pick them up.
- If you have a change of plans and will be away when a package arrives, consider trying USPS Intercept. Through the service before delivery you can redirect most domestic package shipments to the sender, a new address or the post office to be held for pickup. There is a fee but you are charged only if the package is successfully redirected.
- Provide USPS with personalized instructions. If your package doesn’t fit in your mailbox and you won’t be home to receive it, you can provide delivery instructions online and authorize your carrier to leave it in a specified location by visiting MyUSPS.com.