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Police work to combat package theft during holiday season

An increased number of Mass. residents report packages being stolen from their property after delivery. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

With Cyber Monday kicking off the season for online shopping, an increased number of Massachusetts residents are reporting packages being stolen from their property after delivery in November and December, several police departments said.

Arlington is one of the towns that sees a significant uptick in package theft, said Chief Frederick Ryan.

“We have had experience with packages being stolen around the holidays,” he said.

Ryan said Cyber Monday brings an increased volume of deliveries to homes in the town, which “translates to an increase in the likelihood that thieves will target these packages for theft.”

Quincy Police Sergeant Karen Barkas said although police departments don’t typically keep track of package theft in the same way they closely track things like homicide statistics, her department consistently sees a rise in the crime this time of year.


Three reports came in on Nov. 17 alone, she said.

“This is a time that we see increased package theft, but I couldn’t even venture to say how many” packages are stolen on average each year, she said.

In Cambridge, the police department has been keeping a close eye on package theft, and it has implemented several measures to combat it, according to Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick.

Form January through October in 2016, there were 109 reports of package theft in the town, he said. This year, that number is down to 27.

“We do a lot in terms of educating the community,” Warnick said. “Not just residents, but also postal services.”

They proved detailed maps to drivers of where thefts have been reported, post public service announcements on social media, send out e-mail alerts, and go door-to-door in neighborhoods that have been historically victimized.

This year, they’re deploying decoy packages with tracking devices, Warnick said.

“The goal obviously is to catch the suspects in action,” he said.


Melrose police are taking the same approach, said Chief Michael Lyle. One area in the city proved to be especially vulnerable last year, but Lyle declined to specify which in order to avoid tipping off thieves.

So far this year, “there haven’t been many,” he said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate.”

Lynn Police Lieutenant Michael Kmiec said his city has also been particularly lucky this year, although usually they get a rash of reports around this time.

“In the past, we’ve had incidents, but we have not had a lot reported thus far this year,” he said.

Kmiec said as a lieutenant, he tries to track package theft and alert fellow officers about it, since he remembers hearing many reports of cars following delivery trucks to steal packages when he was a patrol officer.

Drivers “have to be aware and keep an eye out to see if they see the same vehicle following them while they’re making their drops,” he said.

As for avid online shoppers, police recommended timing deliveries to arrive while you’re in town, coordinating with neighbors to keep an eye on each other’s front doors, shipping packages to work addresses when possible, and constantly staying alert.

“You’re making things very easy for a criminal if you don’t,” Melrose Chief Lyle said.

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.