Skip to Content
© Saje | Dreamstime.com
News

Your new holiday gifts attract thieves – 3 tips to protect your stuff

The joys of Christmas morning, when you finally get to tear the wrapping paper from packages waiting under the tree. Now that Christmas 2021 is officially in the books, you might have spent the last few days setting up your new tech … without putting much thought into what to do with its packaging.

Did you know, porch pirates stole 210 million packages in 2021? Now just imagine if these thieves didn’t have to wonder what was in the boxes they carried away.

Few of us keep the boxes and packaging that electronics or gifts come in, opting to throw them out at the first chance. But by doing so, you could be inviting some unintended guests. Criminals are on the prowl, looking for opportunities to snatch your gifts.

Here’s the backstory

When everything has been unboxed and ready for assembly, the easiest thing to do is take the discarded boxes out to the trash or recycle bins. Depending on your neighborhood’s collection method, you might just stack them on the sidewalk.

But that can be a serious mistake, especially if you received something of high value like a smart TV, a computer, other sought-after electronics or kitchen gadgets. Leaving the boxes on the sidewalk is a signal to anybody who passes by as to what you go for Christmas.

If thieves are in the area, they’ll know exactly where to come knocking for their next score. And it’s a warning issued annually by police departments across the country.

Mind the curb

The best way to dispose of any packaging is to be as discreet about it as possible. There are several things that you can do that won’t draw any unwanted attention to your gifts.

  • Try to flatten large boxes as much as possible. Not only with this make them easier to manage, they also won’t stand out.
  • To take it a step further, flatten, then turn boxes inside-out.
  • For packaging that fits in the trash or recycle bin, don’t overfill it. If the lid won’t close, set the rest aside somewhere out of sight until the following week’s pickup.

About those package pickups

Need to do a return? There is also a safer way for that.

If you received something that you would like to return, don’t send it through the mail. USPS offers a package pickup service, which can make those items another target for porch pirates — especially this time of year.

The best way to handle that is to take the product back to the store yourself. If that isn’t possible, you can still send it through USPS, but go to the nearest drop-off point instead. Here’s how to find the nearest post office.

If shipping through UPS, you can find drop-off locations by tapping or clicking here. For FedEx, here’s what you need to know.

Stay safe on social media

Criminals are also on the lookout for what people post on social media. Many won’t even think twice to post on Facebook or Instagram about the sweet tech they received. But if criminals can work out where you live, you could be their next target.

Through the Facebook smartphone app, here’s how you can limit who can see your posts:

  • Tap the three-line More menu button on the bottom right.
  • Scroll down and tap Settings & Privacy, followed by Settings.
  • Scroll down to Audience and visibility and tap Posts.
  • Tap first on Who can see your future posts? Make sure it’s set only to Friends.
  • In the previous menu, tap Limit who can see past posts.
  • Tap Limit old posts, then Confirm to make previous posts visible only to Friends.

That setting is so that only specified people can see your previous posts, but the same setting can also be applied to new, individual posts.

  • Tap the field to Create Post.
  • Below your name will be a privacy setting.
  • Click on the down arrow and select an audience group from: Public (not recommended), Friends, Friends except..., Specific friends or Only me.

Write your post like you normally would and hit the Post button. That social media update will only be visible to the people you selected, and not strangers who might also be potential thieves. You can do that for all future posts if you haven’t set up the audience limitation options.

🚨 What it means for you

Keeping your property safe from porch pirates and other thieves isn’t only important this time of year. While some thefts might be situational crimes of opportunity, other criminals regularly scout neighborhoods to see what’s on front porches or waiting by the curb.

✅ Video doorbells could deter would-be thieves before a crime is even committed. But if they’re bold enough, they might just try to take your high-tech doorbell, too. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen and steps to take if it does.

✅ Don’t forget about your furry friends, either. Tap or click here to find out why dog abductions have skyrocketed over the past few years, and which breeds are the most popular targets.

Keep reading

6 crafty ways thieves will steal your car and parts

9 clever ways cybercriminals want to steal your hard-earned cash this month

cryptocurrency e-book hero

New eBook: ‘Cryptocurrency 101’

Don't want to lose your dough to crypto? Check out my new eBook, "Cryptocurrency 101." I walk you through buying, selling, mining and more!

Check it out