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Tis the season to steal

North Dakota residents have a higher likelihood of falling victim to package theft than Californians, says a Massachusetts-based security company.

Blink, an Andover, Mass.-company that makes high-definition security cameras that provide livestream feeds to smartphones and computers, hired SHIFT Communications to survey online consumers to see how many had a package stolen from their home.

The survey of more than 10,000 consumers showed that rural areas had a higher rate of packages stolen per population. Residents of North Dakota were 26.2 times more likely to have a package stolen from their home, while a California resident was only .62 times more likely to have a package stolen. Vermont had the second-highest rate, 16.43 times more likely.

Detective Dale Ackland, Jamestown Police Department, said these numbers are based on thefts per population, so any state with a higher population would naturally see lower numbers. He said package thefts occur in Jamestown.

"It does happen here," he said, "and tends to happen more the closer we get to the holiday season."

Ackland said he currently doesn't have any cases of package theft. He said in past cases he has seen where packages were delivered to someone's house and left on the front steps, porch or mailbox when the resident wasn't home. Those packages were then taken by someone else, and those thefts are considered a crime of opportunity, Ackland said.

"I've seen package thefts for people living in apartment buildings, where the package was left by the mailboxes for the entire building," he said.

The best way to avoid package theft is to be home when the package is expected to be delivered, Ackland said. Whether the package is delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or Federal Express, each service has an app that can be downloaded to a smartphone that allows people to track a package as it moves through the shipping process.

"You can follow the package and be home before it arrives," he said.

David Laubner, Blink’s head of digital marketing, said people can also leave delivery drop-off instructions, like having a package placed at a back door, or hidden behind an object on a porch.

"You can specify the drop-off location and instructions ahead of time with USPS, FedEx and UPS online," he said.

Faro also suggested having an outdoor security camera installed that points at the front door so people can keep an eye out for deliveries.

Tracy Spahr, a public relations official with UPS, said even during this busy time of year, UPS deliveries impacted by package theft are relatively low, less than 1 percent. Spahr said people shipping or receiving gifts through UPS can have those packages rerouted to a UPS Store, like the one in Jamestown, either through the UPS app or through the company's website.

Someone shipping a package may also require a signature before a package is released, according to information on the Federal Express website.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454