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Cops in New Jersey are using fake Amazon boxes to bait porch thieves

New Jersey City Police are teaming up with Amazon to use dummy cardboard boxes with GPS tracking devices to capture holiday season thieves.

The Christmas season and its shopping madness provide a temptation for petty thieves who wander around porches and doorsteps waiting for packages to arrive.

This year, police have come up with a neat trick that would make Austin Powers proud.

In a partnership with Amazon, which is providing free equipment for the sting, the police are installing doorbell cameras and delivering fake Amazon boxes with GPS tracking attached.

“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” police captain James Crecco told AP News. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”

Captain Crecco, who is overseeing the initiative, said that the first unlucky thief was caught.

The locations for the fake deliveries were selected using the city’s crime data, as well as theft hotspots highlighted by Amazon.

“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around [closed-circuit TV] or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” said Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly.

The anti-parcel theft program was approved by a municipal prosecutor and underwent all the necessary legal reviews. If this first stage is successful, the city is hoping to expand the initiative to other areas.

According to a report from insuranceQuotes.com, 26 million Americans have had a holiday package stolen from their doorstep – almost one in 12.

In Australia, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and a study commissioned by Nest says that 17 per cent of Australian adults have experienced package theft in their life. With Amazon now operating in Australia, some fear that this number will only rise.

The US Postal Service expects to deliver around 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas this holiday season, and UPS forecasts about 800 million parcels more.

Here are some recommendations to avoid your new pink pilates ball being stolen from your doorstep this Christmas:

  • Avoid leaving your packages outside for extended absences. Ask for your local post office to set up hold-mail requests if you’re not going to be home for a certain period of time.
  • Keep an eye on your tracking notifications and try to be there when your parcel arrives.
  • Some companies allow customers to pick up packages at specified pick-up points like drugstores and supermarkets.
  • If you definitively can’t be at home, have your precious cargo delivered to your workplace (if allowed) or a friend’s home.
  • Ask your shipping company for signature verification, especially if it’s an expensive item.
  • Doorbell cameras can’t catch or stop a thief, but at least you’ll have video evidence to show the police.

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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