PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The holiday shopping season is about to kick into full gear, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming.
This means millions of packages will be on their way to homes, and it also means people will need to be on the lookout for porch pirates.
Porch pirates are people who steak packages from a home's front porch. According to insurancequotes.com, more than 20 million Americans had packages stolen from their homes in 2015.
Some porch pirates will simply follow a van from UPS, Amazon, or FedEx, as they make deliveries to homes. The thief will watch the package being delivered, and once the driver takes off, they will walk off, and take the package right off the front porch.
Surveillance video of these thefts fill the internet. It happened to Caitlyn McCullum.
"It was one of my little sisters' school books," said McCullum. "It was someone on a bike, and then opened the package a couple of houses down, realized it was a book, and threw it on the ground."
McCullum was home for the delivery on Wednesday, and so was Mary Bell, who ordered door handles on the web. She said she orders and tracks her packages, so she knows when they are coming and waits for them. Bell finds the rise of porch pirating troubling.
"It could be something that was medication or something I really needed," said Bell. "So, that would put somebody in a bind, so it's just a shame."
Internet retail companies like Amazon are trying to combat theft. Amazon has installed package lockers where you can have packages sent there. Another option is an alarm device called Package Guard. Invented by a Seattle company, the device notifies you when a delivery person sets a package on the device, and emits an alarm when it is removed.
Other ways to ensure an package's safety is to sign up for e-mail notifications of when your package is en route, as well as expected delivery times. Also, people can ask their neighbors to look out for deliveries, and to pick them up for you.
People can also unsure valuable items, or pay for items with a credit card that offers reimbursement, in case of theft.