(WXYZ) — It's the gift-giving season, which means a lot of people are shopping online. Police departments across metro Detroit are reminding the community to be on alert for porch pirates.
According to Security.org, 49 million Americans have had a package stolen in the past year, including about 18% of Michiganders. the total resulted in about $2.4 billion in losses nationwide.
Just this week, Detroit police busted someone who stole more than 40 packages, and detectives in St. Clair shores are investigating after a person was caught on camera swiping a package off someone's doorstep.
Police say it's a crime of opportunity, and a thief will likely hit more than one house at a time. They're looking for easy targets, and with Christmas coming up, a lot of packages are landing on front porches.
Officer Chad Hammer said they have been seeing package thefts going back months. He said home security video is one of their best crime-fighting tools.
"It's extremely helpful. Obviously, if we have nothing to go on, it's really hard to identify them. This will at least give us a vehicle description, maybe a license plate, which will help narrow down the suspect," he said.
Last year, 20 billion parcels were shipped in the U.S., and a survey found 43% of Americans had a package stolen.
"The holiday season is definitely a busy time for us recently," Hammer said. "I think this is one of the few that we've had, but with the holiday season around and everyone ordering, they will come out."
In Detroit, two rookie officers made a huge porch pirating bust. We're told the suspect fled the scene of a crash and a concerned citizen pointed police in the right direction.
Captain Michael Chambers said after performing a traffic stop, they found 41 packages in his back seat, all addressed to residents in Farmington Hills.
"I am just thankful that in this particular instance we were able to get this individual into custody, and now these packages have been returned to them," he said.
In 2019, a new state law went into effect making repeat porch piracy offenses in Michigan a felony.
On top of having the punishment fit the crime, police also want residents to be proactive and try to get packages delivered to a business location or an Amazon locker.
If someone steals your package, you can call the police department's non-emergency number. They'll make a report and the crime will be invesigated.