CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — As Christmas approaches, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is offering homeowners and renters some advice to deter porch pirates from stealing their packages. This comes as the University of Illinois Police Department is starting to report more package thefts on campus.

In its latest report on Monday, the UIPD reported two more instances of students reporting packages being stolen from their apartments; these are the seventh and eighth instances in the month of December alone. In some of these cases, the packages themselves are stolen while in other cases, the packages are torn open and left behind with the contents instead being stolen.

“Many times, theft is a crime of opportunity,” said Sheriff Dustin Heuerman. “People steal what they can see and usually don’t waste their time hunting for things they don’t know exist. For this reason, the less likely a would-be thief is to see a delivered package then the less likely it will be stolen.”

Heuerman offered the following tips people can take to prevent their packages from being stolen:

  • Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on the home and collect any packages that are delivered while away.
  • Have packages delivered to work, if allowed.
  • Get shipment and delivery notifications to know when to expect a package to be delivered.
  • Invest in a porch lock box for packages or work with delivery companies to have options on leaving packages in a locked area like the garage. Some companies will even hold packages locally until the homeowner can pick them up.
  • Invest in a video doorbell, the presence of which might deter would-be thieves. Even if it doesn’t, it can assist in the investigation

Heuerman added that he sent a letter to local delivery companies asking to help mitigate thefts by better hiding packages their drivers deliver. Anyone who sees someone acting suspicious or going from porch to porch without obvious reasons is encouraged to contact police.

While package thefts from apartments doors, lobbies and off porches are not a new occurrence, these thefts come amidst a new trend of mail being stolen from blue drop-off boxes. Some of the drop-off box thefts involve checks being stolen, washed and rewritten to defraud people of more money than they intended to withdraw.