Const. Brent Benbow standing next to Amazon packaging as he speaks to media in Prince George on Dec. 11, 2019. (Prince George RCMP handout)

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

‘Tis the season for porch pirates looking to ruin the holiday season one package at a time – but Mounties in Prince George are looking to curb those thefts in a first-in-Canada “bait package” program.

Prince George RCMP announced this week that the detachment has been teaming up with e-commerce company Amazon to use decoy packages and surveillance technology to catch thieves in the city.

To date, police have placed these bait packages in 50 different locations, leading to three investigations. A 37-year-old man, a resident of Prince George, is facing possible charges, police said in a statement.

“Our hope is that this initiative will lead to many more arrests of persons looking to ruin the holidays for families in our community,” said Const. Brent Benbow, the officer leading the new initiative.

The concept of bait packages has never before been used to combat this particular kind of theft, but has been piloted to catch shoplifters and other thieves. Surrey RCMP used “holiday bait packages” filled with electronics and jewelry at local malls last December, garnering the arrest of three men during a five-day trial – as well as a number of Good Samaritans who tried to return the decoy shopping bags.

Meanwhile, porch pirates continue to be a chronic problem around the country – especially during the holidays when an exponential amount of purchases are delivered to doorsteps.

RCMP are urging people to use caution, and are offering a number of tips:

  • Make sure you are on a legitimate website.
  • Use pay pal or a small balance credit card for purchases. Do not give out credit card numbers verbally.
  • Do not click on a link because it is a super good deal.
  • Suspicious websites have non-operating front page links.
  • Before you purchase, search the store online to see if it has been the victim of a scam or has bad feedback.
  • Be on the lookout for cheaper product clones sold online, pretending to be from a major supplier or brand name.
  • Look out for fake coupons.
  • Stick with businesses that you trust.
  • Have your packages requiring tracking and signature.
  • If you are unable to be home at the time of delivery, consider having items delivered to locations where someone will receive them. Relatives, friends, businesses or directly to a local post office for pick-up at our convenience.
  • Check and remove contents of community mailbox locations daily.
  • Have shipping insurance.
  • Keep packages out of site in your vehicles.
  • Be careful who you share your shopping successes with.

@ashwadhwani
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