With increased online orders, police warn of package thefts

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After Monday marked the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, millions of packages are being delivered all over the country. With even more online shopping continuing through the holiday season, police departments all over are bracing for increased reports of packages being stolen. 

“I couldn't sleep the night it happened,” said Shannon Smith.

Last week, Smith was at her home in Savage with her family when a man helped himself to some Christmas presents recently delivered on her front porch. She watched his every move through a motion sensor doorbell camera called Ring. 

“I could see him go for the packages, I’m like, 'What do I do?" said Smith. "I’m like, 'Oh wait I can talk through the Ring,'” said Smith. “So I turn it on and I probably sound so silly, but I’m like 'Hey! What are you doing?'"

Thanks to the technology of these types of camera doorbells becoming more affordable, residents are capturing criminals in action all over the country. With increased online shopping, the U.S. Postal Service alone is expecting to deliver more 850 millions packages this holiday season, a 10 percent increase over last year. 

“The people who have [cameras], it’s just invaluable seeing who’s showing up,” said Officer Aaron Machtemes from the Eagan Police Department. “Even if we don’t get them that time, we can get them next time because we are starting to develop the suspect. And we can look out for them and put pictures out to the public and identify them that way. 

Officer Machtemes points out it's not just packages thieves are after. USPS will deliver 15 billion pieces of mail over the holidays. Eagan Police is working to identify a man seen cashing a check that was stolen from a mailbox.

“Don't put your red flag up," said Machtemes. "That's kind of a sign for thieves to know what mailboxes contain checks of gift cards.”

In Smith’s case, the thief ended up startled and dropped the boxes in her front yard. Now she's reminding other online shoppers to make sure a safe delivery plan is part of their purchase process.

“Stay alert and know when [the packages] are coming,” said Smith. “And if you can’t get them in the house right away get them as soon as you can really.”