Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Package thefts in the neighborhood and what to do about them

Package thefts in our area are nothing new. However, lately I've seen a lot of videos of thefts from people's doorbell cameras on local Facebook groups, and I've also heard about a few instances of crooks jimmying open doors to buildings. It's not fun to lose something you're expecting, and it's difficult to catch the perpetrators (but video does help!)

However, there are a few solutions:

For one, try to get the packages delivered somewhere else, like your office. There are also a few places in our neighborhood that will accept packages, like the UPS Store on Monroe near 14th, FedEx Kinko's on 14th near Kenyon, and Walls of Books on Georgia Avenue, which is a UPS Access Point. You can talk to any of them to get more info on how delivery and pickup works. Amazon also has a network of Amazon Lockers for things you order from there.

For buildings, you can also buy package lockers that you install outside, basically mailboxes where the postal carrier can drop your packages that only you and other building residents have the keys They range in price, design and security level, you can find a bunch available online. Petworth News has one example.

And if you've had packages stolen from inside your building, there may be an easy fix. If your building doesn't have a deadbolt on the door, it can be pretty easy to pry it open with some simple tools. This happened at my building and at a friend's, someone made off with a bike and some packages. One way to prevent it is pretty simple, add a metal strip called a latch protector covering the gap where the lock is that makes it impossible to stick something in there and open it. They're usually pretty inexpensive and easy to install (here are some examples), and after we added ours we had no more problems with thefts from inside the building.

You can add a security camera or doorbell camera too. Ring is a popular brand and many brands will turn on at any sign of movement. They don't necessarily deter people, but you might be able to give the video to police.

And you should also alert the police -- you can even file a police report online. Even if they can't find the person who did it, they'll have a record of where and how often the thefts occur, which might suggest patterns. And that might help them bust the crooks next time. Help our your neighbors.

Or, you can do what these folks tried: putting poop in a box.

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