Postal inspectors on the lookout for package thieves during holidays

(WSVN) - The holidays are peak shipping season for the U.S. Postal Service, and that means more chances for people who steal packages.

Thieves drive around searching for packages left unattended in front of homes. It’s called “porch poaching,” and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in South Florida is trying to put an end to it.

“U.S. Postal Service is expecting approximately 750 billion pieces or packages themselves to be delivered this year,” U.S. Postal Inspector Ivan Ramirez said.

Shipments are at an all-time high thanks to cyber shopping. So the inspectors are driving around, watching for any poachers.

“We’re out there. We’re roaming the streets in unmarked vehicles, ” Ramirez said. “The average consumer or customer will not know that we’re out there, but we are because we’re making sure that, not only our carriers are safe, but of course, you get a safe delivery of your package.”

7News rode along with Ramirez, who said more residents are taking safety into their own hands.

“The fact that a lot of consumers now have their own home surveillance systems, that’s been a great help for us in law enforcement,” he said.

Ramirez said the best way to ensure your packages aren’t stolen is to have them shipped to your work, sent to a neighbor or relative, or have them held at the post office.

Those who are caught stealing packages face federal penalties.

“Young folks decide, ‘Oh I’ll just take a package, it’s no big deal.’ But anything that you steal from the postal service, whether it’s already been delivered to someone’s porch or it’s actually out of the service itself, you’re facing a federal penalty,” Ramirez said.

The inspectors are hard at work so everyone holiday gifts arrive where they’re supposed to be.

“Just to avoid the grinches from rearing their ugly head,” he said.

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