APD offers tips to keep the Grinch out of your holidays
With the holiday shopping season in high gear leading into annual sales including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, our area is already seeing ‘porch pirates,’ counterfeit bills and lifted card information.
What they do not seem to realize is that a lot of folks now have digital doorbells, which catch them in the act when theft occurs on porches. Several reports have made their way to city and county law enforcement, with many more blasted on social media. Access to financial information via apps and having text and push notifications enabled gives nearly instant alerts for fradulent card activity.
While video and photos of the individuals help law enforcement find those responsible, those engaged in this illicit activity may not be aware of a new statute put in place last year that makes cracking down on this thievery a lot easier for local courts.
The Porch Piracy Act, which was signed into law in May 2020 by Gov. Kevin Stitt has been in effect for nearly a year. The Act details fines and potential prison sentences for those who steal packages and mail in the state. Under the act, stealing mail is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
Ardmore Police Department Captain Claude Henry said there are steps you can take to avoid this issue:
1. Know when the package will be delivered.
2. Have the package delivered to your job or office.
3. Insert special instructions for the delivery driver to place the package out-of-sight.
4. Have a trusted neighbor pick up your package and hold it for you.
“The biggest key to avoiding having packages stolen is time,” Henry said. “The less amount of time a package sits on your porch, the less amount of time it will be susceptible to theft.”
“Protecting your banking information and personal items during the holiday season should be high priority,” Henry said. “Small miscues can lead to headaches.”
The biggest thing one can do to ensure their banking information isn’t being used illegally is to monitor their bank accounts, Henry said. Victims of fraud tend to notice the fraudulent charges days after they are made.
Henry said suspects will “strike while the iron is hot” once they use the banking information successfully. They will typically go to several different places racking up charges until they have depleted the entire account or the bank cancels the account.
One local high school senior said he noticed his card was missing and immediately notified his bank via their mobile app. After only a half hour since its last valid use, the thief had tried the card for small amounts twice.
Henry said shoppers should also be leery of non-secured websites and websites promoted on Facebook. “Most will promote 'last minute deals' and 'flash sales' but the company is not reputable,” Henry said. “Either the product never comes or it is not the item ordered. It is recommended to purchase items from a name-brand website. One of the tricks I have learned over the years is to research the website and click on the “Contact Us” tab. I’ve had good luck with websites that offer several ways of reaching them, i.e. e-mail, phone, fax, etc. Websites that only allow you to input your information with your order number may not be as secured or trusted as others.”
Another tip Henry offers to keep the Grinch out of your Christmas is to lock your doors when you’re shopping. "Make sure that you park your vehicle as close to the front of the store as possible and/or under the parking lot lights,” Henry said. “If someone doesn’t feel like going inside, let them rest inside the vehicle so it is occupied. Take a large blanket to cover your purchases so people can’t look inside your vehicle and see what or how much you have purchased.”