Sumter Police Department gives tips to keep porch pirates away this season


With the holiday shopping season in full swing post-Thanksgiving, leaving packages unattended can draw the attention of unwanted porch pirates.

Porch pirate is a nickname popularized in recent years for a thief who steals packages from porches, and this is their favorite time of the year.

About 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package delivery stolen from a front porch or doorstep, according to a 2017 survey.

To keep the community safe from porch pirating, Sumter Police Department Patrolwoman Mary Koty provided residents with holiday travel safety tips:

- Secure your residence, and always keep a porch or motion light on while you're traveling.

- Have mail delivered to the post office or your work, not your residence, or have someone check your mail and pick up deliveries.

- Don't post on social media that you're traveling out of town.

- Ask family or friends to look after your residence.

- Visit the Sumter Police Department and fill out a property watch form, where officers will patrol and check on your property while you're traveling.

"If you're having any packages delivered to your house, get them inside as quickly as possible," Sumter Police Department Sgt. Eric Johnson said. "Either schedule a time with the carrier so you're there at the same time, or if you have a neighbor or family member that can come and get them before you get home."

Sumter Police Department Public Information Officer Tonyia McGirt said having a lockbox to store delivered packages is handy, as is having packages delivered to another location, such as your workplace or a friend's residence.

Another way to stop porch pirates from stealing holiday packages is by making delivery requests, such as requesting a signature, setting a specific time for delivery and tracking the package.

If you're looking to secure your residence this holiday season, think about installing a home security system with security cameras, especially a doorbell security system, which will capture porch pirates in the act. Some devices even let you watch the camera feed live on your smartphone and allow you to talk through the device via your phone to scare would-be thieves away.