St. Paul police using bait boxes to curb holiday package thefts

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The St. Paul Police Department is hoping their latest technique will help curb package thefts. Police will be putting decoy boxes with GPS trackers areas where there’s a concentration of stolen packages.

“This is the box we used yesterday and it just has an old laptop that’s inoperable,” said St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster.

St. Paul police hadn’t tried this approach until Tuesday, but with the amount of packages being stolen off porches, officers figured the tactic can either help catch a thief or make them think twice.

“So right now in 2018, to this date, we’ve had about 200 packages taken,” said Ernster. “Most of those have been taken since October 1.”

Packages thefts have risen in recent years, simply as a result of more being delivered. Reported thefts rise sharply at the holidays because thieves figure the boxes are less likely to be dog treats or diapers and more likely to be re-sellable electronics or other gifts.

“We’re working with an area resident who has given us permission to put the package on their step and we’re putting a GPS locator in it and seeing if it gets taken,” said Ernster.

St. Paul has no problem advertising they’ve started putting out bait boxes because they want people to know. As much as they are staying vigilant for someone to take the bait, they would rather no one take anything at all.

“And if somebody’s second guessing whether it’s a real box or a bait box, we’d rather have it be in the back of their mind that they could get arrested if they take it,” he said.