Alternative options for package deliveries this holiday season

With holiday season if full swing, package thefts are a major concern. (WCHS/WVAH)

It's a crime that anyone taking advantage of online shopping can fall victim to, and police said it's happening all across the Capital City.

Three times in the last week, the Kanawha City area has been the scene of the crime.

"You always got to stop and think before you order something, 'is it going to be stolen off my porch?'" Rodney Keene of Kanawha City said.

One of the incidents was caught on camera outside a home in the 4700 block on Venable Avenue on Friday.

Police said James Ray Koch is seen on surveillance video taking a package off someone else's porch and throwing it into his truck and driving off.

Koch has since been arrested.

Police are also searching for Jimmy Deskins who is believe to be involved in the same type of crimes.

On Tuesday, police arrested Natchee Robinson, 32, of Charleston for stealing packages in the 4900 block of Washington Avenue in Kanawha City.

"It makes you frustrated you can't order something and have it delivered to your house. That is the best option about Amazon," Keene said.

If you can't get a package delivered to a workplace or have someone pick it up at your home, what can you do? One thing is having it delivered to the local company store like the UPS store if you're getting a UPS package.

UPS Spokesperson Dawn Wotapka said package thefts are a concern throughout the year.

"You getting your package on time and safely is one of our biggest priorities. Like I said, we try to make it as easy as possible for everyone," Wotapka said.

UPS has a free program called My Choice, which allows people to get updates on their packages while en route.

FedEx has a similar program called FedEx Delivery Manager, which allows you to customize your deliveries to fit your schedule.

The U.S. Postal Service has similar options including renting a PO Box.

Here are 10 customer tips from the USPS:

  1. Avoid sending cash by mail. Checks and money orders are safer because they may be canceled or reissued if stolen.
  2. Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Mail and packages shouldn’t be left in mailboxes or on front porches for long periods of time.
  3. Consider an alternate shipping address. Customers can arrange to have packages delivered to their workplace or to neighbors who are home during the day.
  4. Change the package’s address — while it’s in transit. Customers who’ll be away from home when their package is delivered can use USPS Package Intercept to redirect it.
  5. Customize the delivery. Visit usps.com to provide instructions for the carrier to leave deliveries at specified locations.
  6. Ship using Hold for Pickup. Customers sending packages can choose the Hold for Pickup option to allow recipients to collect deliveries at their local Post Office.
  7. Hold mail at the local Post Office. The Hold Mail service is another option for customers planning to be away from home.
  8. Use USPS signature services. Customers can use Signature Confirmation to ensure a package ends up in the right hands when it’s delivered.
  9. Choose the most secure form of delivery. Registered Mail receives special handling that documents the chain of custody.
  10. PO Boxes might be the answer. Customers concerned about the security of their mail can rent a PO Box at their local Post Office.

All three shipping giants recommend people sign up for their programs and not just post instructions on your door for the driver.

"They are extremely busy, and you telling them where to put the package there is no guarantee that will happen in the frenzy of the holiday shipping," Wotapka said. "The best thing the consumer can do is sign up for these programs and put the notes electronically."

Keene said the crimes are a wake-up call, and he's looking at other options now too.

"After this, I may do more, 'sorry, I didn't wrap it" I may ship it directly to you and not to me," Keene said.

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