Saturday, November 21, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Package Theft Season Has Begun

by Peggy Robin

As we are entering Package Theft Season, I thought I would pass along this link to the list of “how to prevent package theft” tips recently posted on the MPD 2D listserv:

However, the list omits to mention one suggestion I have found helpful: Sign up for “UPS My Choice” to receive email or text notifications of UPS deliveries. That way you will know when a package is expected, and if that date and time window are not convenient for you, it’s easy to reschedule or leave detailed instructions about how or where to leave the package (for example, “Please deliver to my next door neighbor” or “Hide it behind the planter.”

You will receive another email when the package had been delivered – and if it’s not there at the time and date noted in the email, you can start an inquiry about what happened to it, which will help to document any later claim filed with the sender to void the charge for the item never received.  

However, on occasion the steps taken to defeat package thieves can inadvertently work against you. A cautionary tale: A while back I got a “UPS My Choice” email about an expected package delivery. It was a nifty little electronic gizmo – smaller than a deck of cards but valuable enough to be of interest to a thief. I did not leave any specific instructions about hiding the package, as I knew I would be home during the delivery window, and thought I would just go out and get it soon as soon as it arrived. Then came the email telling me the delivery was now complete. I went out to the front porch and looked around but there was no package that I could see. I looked in all the usual hiding places: behind the porch furniture and under the cushions. Nothing. I even moved the furniture around in case I’d missed seeing it when I glanced underneath the wicker settee and chair. Nothing there. I even checked some unlikely hiding places – around the side of the house, and behind the porch pillars. Nothing and more nothing.

So I went back to my computer, opened the delivery notification email and clicked on the “package delivered” number, and then on “report a claim.” That brought me to the Q&A: “What can I do if UPS Tracking says that my package is delivered, but I don’t have my package?” The first thing to do, UPS insisted, was to go back outside look around some more: “Check around the entrances of your residence for the package, particularly on back porches, bushes, garages, grills, or other places that might protect your package from theft or weather. Well, I checked quite thoroughly the first time, but just to be sure I was doing my bit, I did go back and make a second sweep. When I picked up the same chair cushion I had moved before, this time I discovered a small, soft-sided package standing upright against the back of the chair, about the same shade of tan as the wicker. It had been there all along, in perfect camouflage. Case closed.

Still, I would like to see UPS offer its customers more protection than a hard-to-find hiding place. How about this idea: Put a video camera on the back of each truck, to record the license plates of cars that follow truck for more than a few blocks. If any customers along the route report missing packages, review the tape and see if someone’s been caught making the same rounds. UPS, you can have this idea for free, and you don’t even need to credit it to me. Just keep those packages coming!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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