ROSEVILLE -- Roseville police are making a big effort to prevent so-called "porch pirates" from ruining the holidays for those who ship or receive gifts through delivery services.
The latest data shows that there has been a 50 percent increase in package thefts from doorsteps in the city.
A detective dedicated to the problem has already made visits to delivery companies like UPS and FedEx who often hire temporary help for the holidays.
"We have seen where delivery trucks have been followed...so as they see somebody out of place in that neighborhood, we are asking them to call," said Roseville Det. Rob Pratt.
Police are also asking neighbors to keep a close eye out for suspicious people in their area. They say having packages delivered to relatives or friends who are sure to be home is a good idea.
The department is going so far as to begin a "bait" program where electronic devices are placed in packages left at door steps in efforts to catch or deter thieves. It's similar to a program started by the Rancho Cordova police last year.
UPS, which delivers 30 million packages a day during the height of the holidays, says its drivers can take detailed instructions on how to deliver to homes.
"Behind a garage door, or behind a planter, or even behind a back gate," said Penny Palmer, marketing director for the UPS store in Roseville.
In addition, customers can sign up for a service that notifies them when a package will be delivered and will allow them to change delivery addresses on the fly if they won't be home.
Palmer says one of the best options is to have packages delivered to a UPS receive site, which is a retailer that has extended hours and will hold UPS packages for customers. The better option is to have it sent to a UPS store for no charge. They are open extended hours and on Saturdays.
Palmer says drivers are told to have a good look around before they leave unattended packages on porches and to even write notes to recipients if they do see anyone suspicious.
UPS says the actual number of stolen packages has remained static in recent years and that a growing awareness and reporting of the issue could account for the increase of reported incidents to police.
Still UPS and other delivery services are responding to those concerns by providing more options for online shoppers and those who ship items.
Amazon is increasing the number of lockers located at retail locations like supermarkets that have long hours and lots of people around. Customers receive a notice of items that are delivered to the lockers and a special code that gives them access to the locker for picking up items.
Foregoing delivery to the front door is an inconvenience and jumping through hoops like signing up for tracking an alternate delivery sites can make for delays during a busy season. But Roseville police say the alternative can be worse.
“It might take an extra 10 or 15 minutes, but it will save a lot of heartache in the end," said Pratt.