Crime of opportunity: Calgary police warn of increase in parcel thefts

WATCH: Packages arriving at the door step can be prime targets for thieves -- especially during the busy Christmas parcel season. Lauren Pullen reports on what police are calling a crime of opportunity.

It’s the season of giving — and nowadays with online shopping, many of us get those gifts delivered in the mail.

But a parcel sitting out on a front porch is a prime target, according to police.

A Calgary couple knows first-hand just how quick a Christmas package can get swiped.

Hayley Erza ordered Christmas gifts on Cyber Monday, including a big-ticket present for her common-law partner. They arrived to her home on Wednesday afternoon.

When her partner, Jamie Frost, came home later that day he saw the cardboard package not far from their porch, but it was torn open on the side.

“When I found it I just thought the shipper had damaged it,” Frost said.

Steps to prevent porch pirates from stealing your holiday gifts

So Frost went to check out what happened on the couple’s security camera.

The video shows that just seven minutes after a UPS driver dropped the parcel off, someone walking up the street opened the box and snagged some of the contents for themselves.

The security footage shows a man approach the front porch, grab the parcel and walk towards the back of the home. A few moments later the same man walks back towards the street with something under his arm.

Erza said two items were missing from the package.

“It was just so frustrating — such a violation. When Jamie first sent me the footage and I watched this guy help himself to our stuff — I was just livid,” she said.

They called the Calgary Police Service, which is now investigating.

CPS said parcel thefts do rise over the Christmas season, but added they aren’t very common and the thieves are typically hard to catch.

“Being a crime of opportunity, sometimes it can be difficult to obtain that best evidence if people do have security cameras installed on the exterior of their residence,” CPS Sgt. Matt Baker said.

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Luckily for Erza, the company she ordered from is re-sending her stolen items for free and they are expected to arrive before Christmas.

While it’s an inconvenience, Erza and Frost said they are disappointed more than anything.

“It’s the Christmas season, it’s all about good will towards man and stuff — but here’s somebody just going off and totally ruining the reason for the season,” Erza said.

If you are ordering packages, CPS has the following tips to prevent them from being stolen:

  • Have your package delivered to your workplace
  • Ship your package to the closest store near your house
  • Require a signature for drop-off or pickup at a package depot
  • Track your package online so you know when it will arrive
  • Ask a neighbour to look out for your package and take it inside if you’re not home

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