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BELOIT—The Beloit Police Department is urging residents take precautions against being victimized by package thieves this holiday season.

In 2020, an estimated $6 billion worth of packages were stolen and one in five Americans reported being a victim to porch piracy, according to consumer data analyzed by software company Swiftlane. According to a CR Research 2,000-person survey, 43% of respondents reported having a package stolen last year, compared to 36% in 2019.

Beloit Police Sgt. Brandon Jones said residents should consider first supporting local small businesses for holiday gift giving, but if online shopping is the only option, residents should take simple steps to avoid a package theft.

“Package thefts happen throughout the year, but they get more attention on the holidays due to the monetary value of the packages or the sentimental value of the packages,” Jones said.

If you won’t be home, request the Hold For Pickup option at USPS.com. Other carriers like UPS and FedEx allow for signature-only delivery and will hold items. Many shoppers also use Amazon for buying gifts, and Amazon has Hub Locker locations in Janesville, Rockford and South Beloit where shoppers can have packages sent to a secure location rather than sitting unprotected on a porch.

Residents should not leave packages unattended for any period of time and should consider making prior arrangements with friends or neighbors if a delivery is expected while the homeowner is away.

If you think you may be a victim of a package theft, Jones said residents should contact the delivery provider to determine there were no delays in delivery and if the carrier service shows the package is delivered but isn’t present, contact the department’s emergency number at 608-757-2244.