Are your package deliveries safe? You might think they are, but think again. Gather News writer Chelsea Hoffman had a UPS package delivered to her door on November 8, and it was promptly stolen minutes later. The incident highlights a disturbing trend, and with Christmas just a few weeks away, no one can be sure if what they order will be taken from their doorstep by professionals who make a living stealing other people's property.
The incident happened between in the mid afternoon on Thursday and was caught on two security cameras. The delivery driver stopped in front of Hoffman's house, approached quickly and dumped the package behind a security wall, jumped back into his truck, and sped off. He did not attempt to alert those inside the home that a delivery had been made.
About 20 minutes later, a maroon vehicle that appears to be a Honda or similar model raced down the street from the opposite direction, made a U-turn behind a garbage collection truck, and pulled into Hoffman's driveway. A female passenger who appeared to be in her 20s emerged, plucked the package up from behind the security wall, and quickly hopped back into the car. The garbage collector possibly saw it happen, but it's not his job to stop a thief, and in any event, he probably thought she lived there.
Hoffman described the incident to her friends on Facebook. One reader described how a woman he knew had received an email alerting her that her package had been delivered to her house. She left work to collect it. When she arrived 15 minutes after receiving the alert, the package was gone. Who had taken it?
Hoffman contacted United Parcel Service customer service and reported the theft. On her crime blog, she writes: "I was promised by the customer service representative that they would contact Kmart/Sears and have my item reimbursed since this blatant security issue involved the theft of my goods which I entrusted them to deliver."
Later that day, however, a company investigator contacted her, and before she could even say a word, the gentleman informed her that he was taking the driver's side because he knows him and that "he is a nice guy."
When she reported the incident to the police, the reception she got was much better. In fact, the officer who took her report suspected it might be a "spree" and her video footage of the crime might help catch the thieves and deter others from doing this in the future.
Now, several things are wrong with this entire situation, and it is especially troubling considering the biggest shopping season of the year is nearly upon us.
- The UPS delivery driver never knocked or rang the doorbell. This should be a requirement, and it used to be that if you were not home, the driver would leave a note on your door saying he'd come back and try again. It now seems that customers must request that the drivers knock or require a signature for delivery.
- It would not have been possible for the thieves to see the package from the street, so how did they know it was there? A 20-minute interval occurred between the delivery and the time it was stolen. How did they know about the package? Is the driver complicit? Is a neighbor spying on Hoffman and informing accomplices about these deliveries?
- The security investigator Hoffman spoke to behaved in an extremely unprofessional manner in putting his personal relationship with the driver over the theft of customer property. The message he sent Chelsea was clearly, "my buddy is more important than our customers."
Now, all this fuss might seem a bit much over a couple of pairs of $26 KMart jeans, but Hoffman has stated that she's gotten about $1,000 worth of deliveries in the last several weeks: mostly computer parts, one of which was worth about $260 alone.
This incident should be a lesson for anyone ordering online: Always require a signature or that the delivery driver knock or ring the doorbell so you can get your package handed to you, not dumped on the ground so some random thief can grab 'n go. It also highlights the benefits of surveillance equipment. If your home is burgled, you'll have a better chance of catching the thieves.
Watch the video footage below. You can skip to 0:22 and then to 3:59 to watch the delivery and the theft.