The holiday shopping season is underway which means packages are arriving on doorsteps around Washington.

Packages left outside for hours can be an inviting target for theft, Washington police said. Police are encouraging residents to take precautions to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

Stolen packages at the holidays have been reported nationwide in recent years as more and more consumers opt to shop online. Last week before Thanksgiving a package was reported stolen in the 600 block of Third Street.

Sitzes said the best way to prevent stolen packages is to be home when the shipment is supposed to arrive. If someone is home when the package is delivered, the package won’t be outside long enough for thieves to steal.

“If it’s that valuable a package, arrange for a friend or a family member to hang out around your house — come up with another solution instead of leaving it sitting there all day,” he said.

If a person or family member can’t be at home, Sitzes said people can turn to a trustworthy neighbor to remove the package.

Another option is to have the shipment delivered to a workplace where it can be taken home at the end of the day.

“Leaving them on the front porch is always a bad idea,” he said.

If a package is stolen, Sitzes said the cases are hard to investigate unless there is an eyewitness or surveillance images.

More people are installing home security cameras that monitor doorsteps, he said. Those images can be helpful in tracking down a stolen package.

“We’re seeing more of those cameras around town, and they’re fairly cheap,” Sitzes said.

Car Thefts

Stolen packages haven’t traditionally been a big issue in Washington, Sitzes said. He said the number of cases recently has been fewer than 10 a year. However stealing in general has been on the rise this year.

Washington police have handled more stealing calls this year than in the past. Chief Ed Menefee speculated earlier this year the increase was likely related to drug use.

While the car may seem like an ideal place to hide gifts, Sitzes said it’s probably not the best practice.

Many of the stealing cases this year have involved thieves taking items from cars. Most cases have involved unlocked cars. Sitzes said the thieves are just checking door handles to see if a vehicle is unlocked.

Locking doors doesn’t solve everything, police said. This spring, police responded to multiple calls of cars with broken windows when valuables were left out.

“When you’re out Christmas shopping, keep that stuff out of plain view in your cars and bring that stuff in at night,” he said.