The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business. Not only for professional businesses but for everyday activities by limiting the amount of time we grocery shop and the amount of time we actually spend away from home.

Online shopping has increased since the pandemic struck, and more packages are being delivered to your home. Not as many people are leaving their house and driving to their favorite store to purchase things that may not be considered essential.

Delivery companies are staying busy in your neighborhoods delivering your package to the front porch. Unfortunately, theft is a crime of opportunity.

The Sheriff’s Office has taken 20 more theft calls since March 1 than during the same time frame in 2019. Please just be aware that thefts occur more when the opportunity presents itself.

Here are a few tips to ensure your package is only taken by you:

n Have a plan when you are expecting a package.

n Make sure you are home.

n Have a trusted neighbor receive your package if you are not home.

n Have a dedicated location for deliveries that are not visible from the road.

Learn more at informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action.

There has also been an uptick in mail theft.

Stimulus checks are being delivered if direct deposit isn’t an option. The longer you leave your mail in your box, the more opportunity someone has to take it out. Locked mail boxes are an option, but they too can be pried open.

We have responded to neighborhoods where piles of mail have been found thrown in ditches. We speculate that people are grabbing mail from the neighborhood boxes, going through it and discarding the “junk” mail.

You can sign up with your local post office to know what mail is being delivered to your box.

Now that more people are staying home please be a watchful eye in your neighborhood and report any suspicious activity. Mail thieves drive around neighborhoods looking for the fresh mail delivery.

If you see a vehicle stopping at mail boxes that isn’t the normal mail delivery vehicle for your neighborhood, please call in the best description of that vehicle as possible. If you can get a license plate in a safe manner, that’s even better.

When package delivery companies come through your neighborhood, look for vehicles that are parked near the delivery points. Some thieves drive around following the delivery vehicles, then watch to see if anyone comes out of the house to claim the package.

If not, the thieves take it and drive away.

Be watchful, and stay safe and healthy as we get through this pandemic together.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Send questions to askpatrolchief@gmail.com.

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