‘Tis the season to be jolly….but don’t let the merriment distract you from keeping an eye on your mail, both incoming and outgoing. If a September uptick in mail theft that impacted even Wilton is any indication, all of those holiday packages landing on doorsteps come with an increased risk for package theft.

Wilton has been lucky so far, according to Lieutenant Robert S. Kluk, who’s with the Detective Bureau in the Wilton Police Department. “We have not yet received any reports regarding stolen packages. But, now is the time, when they’re starting to drop with increased frequency.”

In the fall, the frequent incidents of mail theft prompted warnings from the Wilton Police Department:

One resident who experienced it herself reached out to GOOD Morning Wilton to share her story to warn other residents.  She described how her family’s outgoing mail was stolen from their mailbox–including a check they were sending out. The check was altered from $66 to $5,000 and successfully cashed. While the bank did return the amount, the resident spent countless hours shutting down the account, stopping payment on outstanding checks, alerting autopay accounts, and of course, opening up a new account. While she wanted to withhold sharing her name, she did want to share the experience.

“If others can avoid going through the same thing it would be great,” she added.

So, what can residents do to reduce their risk of becoming a victim of mail and package theft? 

  • It certainly never hurts to be proactive–require a signature confirmation, track shipments online, purchase shipping insurance, and never leave packages unattended for long periods of time.
  • Be sure to use the systems the United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx and UPS offer to track your packages from the retailer to your doorstep. All three use tracking numbers, which can determine where your package is and when it should be delivered to your home, which is particularly helpful in getting it inside your house as soon as possible.
  • With the USPS Informed Delivery app, you can have email or text alerts sent to you automatically about your packages. Users can even register for daily emails that include photos of most items they should expect to see in their mail delivery that day. And, if you won’t be home in time to receive a package, you can post delivery instructions for the mail carrier. UPS’ My Choice program and FedEx’s Delivery Manager offer similar options, and Amazon is also on point to help customers keep track of packages, with tracking information that can be found in order details.

Proactive Security

“Recently, we have been talking a lot about car burglaries in Wilton,” says the WPD’s Kluk. “We have told residents to be preventative–Lock It or Lose It–it’s the best way to protect your cars and your personal property. You can apply the same kind of thinking this holiday season when it comes to your packages. Don’t leave your packages outside for an extended period of time. Get them inside where they’re secure. And, don’t leave your packages in your cars–locked or unlocked. Packages sitting on the car seat  that are obviously intended for the holidays are an invitation for theft,” he adds.

If you’re still feeling uneasy there are additional options available to consider. Kevin Vallerie, owner and technology advisor at Untangled, a full-service residential and commercial technology and AV company in Wilton, suggests surveillance for peace of mind and as a deterrent

“The ability to monitor with surveillance cameras is very helpful,” says Vallerie.

While the trend these days is towards WiFi devices, they’re not perfect. “If someone is staking out a home and recognizes a wireless camera, all they need to do is cut the Internet feed from the telephone pole, and the surveillance system is now rendered useless. We recommend wired cameras–as opposed to wireless and WiFi-enabled–high up on the house,” says Vallerie. “A wired camera feeds to a wired recording house, which means that even if your internet goes down, it’s still recording, capturing information, and monitoring.”

Once the holidays are over, it doesn’t mean it’s time to take a day off from vigilance. Unfortunately, mail theft remains an issue regardless of what the calendar says.

“That red flag on your mailbox is just that–a red flag,” says Kluk. “If you have checks to mail out, we highly encourage you to mail them out of the post office. Your mailbox may be convenient, but the aftermath of having a check stolen, is most certainly not.”