You may have heard (everywhere) that today is "Cyber Monday." Soon all those packages you've ordered (or others have ordered for you) will be arriving. And, sure as the snow will fly in December, thieves will be out trying to grab those packages before you can.
It happens every year. So be proactive about protecting your stuff, and tell your neighbors how to be that way, too. It only takes one weak link to let strangers in and make all the other residents vulnerable.
A sad recurring theme in emails we get from readers is about thieves, usually traveling in groups, sometimes even preteens, gaining access to multi-unit buildings and helping themselves to packages left in the lobby. So we'll repeat what we ran last year on how to avoid being victimized:
- Never (never never never never) buzz anyone in unless you're expecting them. It's always shocking to us that thieves can ring ten bells and at least one resident will buzz them in without knowing them. In at least one case, it was an organized theft ring that got into buildings that way.
- If someone rings your bell to say they're from UPS or FedEx, meet them downstairs to verify that's who it is. Once thieves have seen packages sitting in the lobby, it only takes seconds for them to grab them and get out, while you're sitting in your place wondering where the delivery guy you just buzzed in is.
- If you get a delivery, go get it right away. Kevin Liu, who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of packages in the 19th Police District, used to follow the FedEx and UPS trucks down the street and grab what the delivery guys left.
- Is there someone in your building who works from home or is around during the day? Ask them to accept any package deliveries for the building (and slip them a Starbuck's gift card for their trouble).
- Got someone who can receive packages for you at their place? A friend who's home during the day or a local storeowner who'd be willing to accept your packages? (Ditto on the gift card as a thank you.)
- Be creative -- is there somewhere besides your lobby where packages can be left, out of sight of thieves looking for an opportunity?
- Some delivery services will send you a text or email as the package goes along the route. You can at least know when to expect it if you get alerts.
- It costs a couple bucks more, but require a signature on any packages delivered to you or to others. Yes, it's a hassle, but much less of one than trying to get the contents of your package returned to you.
Update: And look here: a 21-year-old guy from the 4500 block of Sheridan Road was arrested Monday for stealing packages from porches on the 1700 block of Diversey. Travis Slaughtaire has been charged with felony theft. He's far from the only opportunist out there. Don't give them a chance to victimize you.