'Tis the season for shopping ... and thefts. SPD offers tips to keep you and your packages safe.

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Savannah Police have shared a few tips to keep you merry and safe this holiday season.

While shopping

Package thefts are the most common form of theft during the holidays, according to SPD. As such, they recommend that, when going holiday shopping, whether downtown along Broughton and Liberty street or at the mall, “avoid quickly throwing packages in the back seat and running back into the store.”

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Credit: AP File Photo

“If you have to make a run to the car, hide the purchases in the trunk or another secure area and consider re-parking. If someone sees you make a run to your car with packages, they usually know you won’t be back for a while.”

Online purchases

According to a survey from Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data, interest in online shopping increased by 49% between 2019 and 2020. The pandemic may have had something to do with the increase in cyber-shopping, but the traffic at the Port of Savannah demonstrates online shopping will continue to grow, creating ripe conditions for malware attacks and porch piracy.

Prevent malware attacks and identity theft

The behemoth marketplace website Amazon reports that “Since 2019, there has been a 158% increase in cyber attacks in North America, and the many high profile attacks that have already occurred this year show no signs of slowing down. Further, holiday shopping has notoriously been a popular time to launch malware attacks with many targeting customer payment information."

When shopping online, Savannah Police recommend using only “well-known, trusted sites” and ensuring the site is “secure” by checking to see if a lock icon is in the top-right corner or that the URL address contains “https” instead of “http.”

Avoid porch piracy

Savannah Police caution against having packages delivered to your home while you are away.

“Either have them re-routed to an alternate address, pick them up at the carrier office or ask a neighbor to pick them up for you. Those big boxes are a clear sign that no one is home and your purchases have been left unattended. Some thieves will follow delivery trucks to see where they make stops at.”

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Rebekah Helmick, an SPD Neighborhood Resource Officer, said "Ring cameras are really helpful" to capture porch pirates, according to a WTOC report. ”A lot of those are from Ring cameras or other cameras on their porch. We haven’t seen it stop them, [but] at least it gives us a clear view of what we might be looking for suspect wise.”

Another trick, if you are ordering from Amazon and have a Prime membership: get your packages delivered to a lock box at the Whole Foods on Victory Drive, and pick up your packages and your groceries later.

Police also recommend tracking your packages with your shipping providers to verify when the package shipped and when it is estimated to be delivered.

While traveling

If you plan to travel out of town for the holidays, SPD recommends doing three things:

First, “ask one or more neighbors to keep an eye on your house, alerting them on who might be there legitimately.”

Second, “if your area has a neighborhood watch, by all means, request its help. Make sure they know how to contact you.”

Third, “call the Crime Prevention Officer in your precinct and alert officers on patrol that you will be away so they can pay extra attention to your house. Make sure they know how to contact you.”

Drew Favakeh is the public safety and public health reporter for Savannah Morning News. You can reach him at AFavakeh@savannahnow.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: 'Tis the season for shopping ... and thefts. SPD offers tips to keep you and your packages safe.