CREATED Dec. 21, 2012
LEE COUNTY - These days more people are doing their Christmas shopping online and that means those gifts will be arriving in the mail. But this is not only convenient for shoppers, it also makes a thief's job a lot easier. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason is here with tips on how to keep criminals from stealing your Christmas.
Postal inspectors in Southwest Florida say this is the most popular time of the year for thieves to steal your packages. They pick them up at your doorstep and right out of your mailbox but there are ways to keep criminals from getting a five finger discount.
Thousands of us will be buying gifts online this year. We expect them to be delivered safely to our front door or mailbox. But if we don't pick them up fast someone else might.
Mark Cavic: "This time of year mail theft or package theft is up."
Mark Cavic is a postal inspector in Fort Myers. He investigates everything from major drug shipments to petty thieves stealing your mail.
Mark Cavic: "The bad guys are out doing their Christmas shopping just a little bit differently than you and I are doing it."
Everyone wants to save money during the holidays but those bad guys are going out of their way to get a package deal.
Mark Cavic: "There are people who drive around they follow the postal, UPS, Fedex, the delivery parcels when they're being dropped off, more so in rural communities."
Neighbors should report any suspicious activity, but you may also want to keep a close eye on the one making the delivery. Earlier this week in Houston, one family's surveillance camera captured video of a UPS driver stealing a package left at their front door by Fedex. Inside the box was an iPad mini - but officials say these crimes carry maximum penalties.
Mark Cavic: "Mail theft or possession of stolen mail comes with a possible 5 year incarceration period and up to a $250,000 fine."
Of course the driver was fired. Cavic has tips on how to keep Christmas capers from targeting you.
Mark Cavic: "Here you put it in a rural mailbox you put your flag up, you're kind of indicating that you do have outgoing mail and outgoing mail does usually contain checks or other financial instruments. I would definitely encourage people, if they're able to, do a drop off delivery at your local post office. The post office will also come to you and pick up."
You can also have the post office hold your mail or deliver it to your business. If you do have a package stolen you can file a mail theft complaint online.