DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The holidays are here, and with more people out shopping and ordering gifts, Durham County deputies warn there are increased opportunities for people to steal.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office hosted a holiday safety conversation Tuesday night.
According to the Better Business Bureau, over the past five years internet searches for “package stolen” nearly doubled during December.
“If you are gonna have packages delivered to your house to leave instructions for the driver put them in a certain spot so maybe they won’t be as visible on the front porch,” said Capt. Eric Carpenter of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division.
Carpenter said you could also ask a neighbor to pick up your package, order the package to work or a drop-off locker, and use a doorbell camera.
When it comes to ordering those packages, Jeb Saunders with the consumer protection division at the N.C. Attorney General’s office said to be on the lookout for scams.
Saunders said scams are more common during the holidays with more people shopping online. Some of his tips are don’t click any links that pop-up instead go to the real website.
Also be sure to look for whatever the link suggested, offers from businesses via email are likely a scam, and pay by credit card because it will be easier to dispute any wrong charges.
If you prefer to shop in person, Carpenter said to park in well-lit areas, store shopping bags in your trunk instead of the backseat when going between stores, and always be alert.
“Don’t be on your phone, try to be observant of your surroundings, so if you notice something suspicious or if it doesn’t feel right trust your instincts, ask for a store employee to walk you to your vehicle if you feel unsafe,” Carpenter said.
Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said the department will increase visibility this month.
“We work a lot of off duty at shopping centers or malls, if you will, primarily working traffic control so folks can get in and get out with as much ease as possible, but we do increase our visibility, not just around the shopping areas, but in neighborhoods,” Birkhead said.
Birkhead said the department will also increase its traffic awareness and run safety checkpoints.
“Unfortunately, we do see an increase in accidents,” Birkhead said. “It’s a numbers game, the more people that are traveling the more likely someone could get into an accident.”
For those not home for the holidays, Birkhead encourages people to use the department’s home check service while out of town where deputies stop by a person’s house and check for break-ins or any suspicious activity.