This Oregon police department is using fake 'bait packages' to catch holiday 'porch pirates'

Packages are equipped with small GPS devices

A police department in Washington County, Oregon, has a new way to catch "porch pirates." They’re planting fake packages as bait that can track the thief who steals it.

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The bait package program has been running for five years, Detective Patrick Altiere, of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, told FOX affiliate KPTV. But new technologies, like GPS tracking systems, now allow officials to do more with the data they gain from the program.

Packages are equipped with small GPS devices and placed throughout the town. Once a package is taken, the GPS alerts the police department with various notifications and alarms. Authorities can then track the stolen goods, and the thief, in real time.

So far, Altiere said, the department has seen a 10 percent to 20 percent decrease in thefts.

Nearly 2 million packages are stolen or go missing every day, which adds up to more than $25 million in lost goods or services, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

Worried customers can protect their parcels: “If you're ordering packages make sure they come when you're home, send them to a neighbor's, send them to an Amazon locker, have them go to work if your work will allow it,” Altiere said.

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Amy Groff, senior vice president of Industry Operations for the National Apartment Association, told FOX Business that customers should pick up their packages as soon as possible.

“This time of year, apartment communities receive an average of 270 packages per week — be sure to pick yours up promptly so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle,” she said.

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If that’s not possible because of work or another obligation, give a neighbor or building management company your contact information so they can alert you or retrieve your package when it comes. Or, consider getting packages delivered to your office instead.

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