Tips from the postal service on holiday package safety

Picture this: That expensive gift you spent weeks waiting for on back order finally gets delivered in time for the holidays, only to be swiped from your doorstep without a trace.

Millions have fallen victim to package theft at some point, and the growth in online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic means porch pirates are on the prowl this holiday season.

That’s why the United States Postal Inspection Service — the U.S. Postal Service’s dedicated law enforcement arm — is asking its users to familiarize themselves with how to stave off a missing parcel nightmare.



For starters, postal inspectors suggest never leaving delivered mail and packages unattended whenever possible. Packages left in the open on front porches or mailboxes are a tempting target.

Sign up for delivery notifications from your courier to determine when you have a package waiting. If you’re expecting a particularly large or valuable package and won’t be home to receive it, consider authorizing the courier to leave it in a specific, safer place — USPS lets you customize delivery instructions online.

For those going out of town for a few days, post offices offer holding services via online request. Letters and packages will be held securely at your local post office until you either pick them up or resume home delivery.

USPS allows senders to plan ahead and have a recipient’s post office hold packages for pickup.

If worst comes to worst, and your U.S. Mail package gets nabbed from under your gaze, don’t panic — call the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or submit a report online. Be sure to save any home security camera footage relevant to the case.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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