'Tis the season to be thieving' Police see trends of holiday theft, how to protect yourself

While it's the season of giving, police say it's also the season for taking.

Posted: Nov 20, 2017 10:40 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2017 11:17 PM

PALESTINE, Ill. (WTHI) - The perfect gift is only a click, or swipe, away.

While it's the season of giving, police say it's also the season for taking.

"We have a saying in law enforcement that during this time, tis the season to be thieving," said Chief Jeffrey Besing, Palestine Police Dept.

Besing says his department is already receiving reports regarding holiday theft. 

A common practice, Besing says, is thieves stealing packages from the doorstep of people's homes. 

"When people order stuff online and have it delivered to their home, we actually have people that follow the UPS and FedEx trucks," he said, "and once they make their deliveries and leave, they'll follow behind them and steal whatever packages are left behind."

Once thieves get a hold of packages, Besing says they often try to resell the items on websites like eBay.

To protect yourself, Besing recommends neighbors be vigilant and report anything suspicious to police. The more information you can give, the better the chances police can recover items.

"If they give us a vehicle description with a license plate and a description of the people that are actually committing the theft, our chances are greatly improved," he said.

When making your online purchases, Besing also recommends sending them to a different address if you don't plan to be home at the time of the delivery.

"Have those packages delivered to a relative's house or a friend's house who is going to actually be there, present, when the delivery is made," he said, "or even to the work place."

If someone is caught committing the crime, Besing says charges could range from misdemeanor or felony theft, depending on the value of the items stolen.

"If they go inside a residence, then it's considered residential burglary," he said.

Police also want to remind the public of staying safe while Christmas shopping at department stores.

"Christmas shopping in the daytime enhances their safety, shop in numbers, go in groups of people to shop," Besing said, "My wife, when we shop at Walmart, she'll take the saftey strap that's on the shopping carts and run it through her purse because there's been actual cases where people have stolen purses out of shopping carts."

"For the ladies, make sure their purse is zipped or closed so people can't just reach in, grab stuff, and leave," he added.

It's not just homes thieves are targeting, police say they're also going after vehicles. Besing recommends people avoid leaving packages or personal items in their car, but if you have to, keep them hidden and out of view. 

"Sometimes people just walk through the parking lot, they'll use a device and smash the window," he said, "Electronics is a big thing to steal, reach in, it's what we call a smash and grab."

Palestine Police Department is using social media to reach residents on how to stay safe and keep thieves at bay throughout the holiday season. To view more of their posts, you can visit their Facebook page.

"Have a safe holiday season, protect each other and look out for your neighbors," said Besing.

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