Public Safety

Tips to Keep Grinchy Criminals From Stealing Holiday Deliveries

The season is all about giving, but you don’t want to unknowingly make crooks the recipients of your generosity.

San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies recently busted two package thieves in Encinitas who were following an delivery driver and collecting the packages he left on doorsteps. Luckily, he noticed the two, called 9-1-1 and stayed on the phone with a dispatcher as he tailed the thieves.

Deputies caught the two with several packages in their vehicle as well as suspected methamphetamine, heroin, a loaded handgun, stolen mail from 13 different victims and even a to-do list that listed shoplifting as one of the items said Sheriff’s Sgt. Rich Eaton. The two San Diego residents were on probation and were arrested for the new crimes.

It’s an important reminder to take precautions when ordering merchandise online. Package thefts are on an upward trend countywide, said Eaton, and  it’s an easy target for criminals.

“The best thing to do is to be home when it’s scheduled to be delivered. But we’re such a convenience-based society, we just want to order it and have it be there,” said Eaton.

If you can’t be home for the delivery, consider the following suggestions:

  • Leave special instructions to the delivery person to put the package in a backyard, or somewhere where it’s not visible from the street. (However, if someone is following a delivery driver, they will be watching and it may not matter.)
  • Require that the delivery driver get a signature for the package.
  • Track the package and try to be home when the package is supposed to arrive, or can request a specific delivery time.
  • Sign up for email or text message alerts with estimated delivery times.
  • Have USPS, Amazon, FedEx or UPS hold your package at their pick-up facility so you can pick it up in person at your convenience.
  • If purchasing from a large retailer, request that your package be delivered to a local branch or store so you can pick it up in person.
  • Get to know your carriers.  If there’s been a problem of thefts in the past, tell them about it.
  • Insure your packages.
  • Ask a neighbor or retired relative (who is home) if they will accept your package for you at their address.
  • Have the package delivered to your workplace if it is permitted.
  • Buy a locking mailbox big enough for packages.

Lastly, ask neighbors to be aware, Eaton said.

“People know who belongs and doesn’t belong in their neighborhood and if they see something suspicious, they need to just call and report it,” he said. “We’ll gladly put someone in jail for Christmas if they’re going to steal packages.”

If your package is stolen, report the theft immediately to the Sheriff’s Department or your local police.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact