Thieves are now shadowing vans hoping to drive off with your packages. How can you keep your items safe?

TEMPLE, Texas – With millions of people shopping online and more packages arriving on their doorsteps than ever before, police expect more porch thieves than ever before. Killeen Police Department detective Troy Fulgham confirmed Tuesday that thieves were even tracking delivery vehicles while looking for loot.

“We saw a bit of people following vans,” said Fulgham. “The porch pirate stuff has been around for a while, but it really picked up pace during the holiday season. People order from Amazon, Walmart, places like this.”

Fulgham said thieves are crossing neighborhoods looking for packages to pick up. He said he knew of at least one case where a car followed an Amazon truck and waited for them to drop off items. Meanwhile, Amazon Flex driver Erica Williams told 6 News that she saw the same vehicle drive past her multiple times while making a delivery for Amazon.

“There have been a few times I’ve seen cars slow down and watch, pull by, and come back,” Williams said. “In particular, once I noticed someone was watching, so I waited and watched, and they drove by again, so I moved the package and texted the customer.”

Williams said she is now removing the “Amazon Flex” magnets from her vehicle when she delivers on vacation so she is not shadowed by thieves.

“You’d have to be right there to see me deliver,” Williams said.

Even when thieves are this persistent, there are still things consumers can do to keep their items safe and keep them from spending time at risk.

When you can be home

An Amazon spokesperson emailed 6 News Monday that there is an estimated Amazon delivery window of two to four hours to help customers plan their day. Williams said it was possible to place packing slips on an order where the delivery should be left at a person’s home or in a specific location that is safer for the customer. Before you bring a delivery service to your home, check out what options are available for that delivery service.

When ordering an item from a nearby store, Detective Fulgham strongly recommends that you pick the item up at the roadside store rather than have it delivered to your porch.

When you can’t be home

Williams and Fulgham also recommended that consumers use Amazon Locker if they have a location nearby so that they can easily pick the item up there. If you use another service or don’t have this option, do everything possible to leave the item with someone you can trust to keep it for you. You can have items delivered to your workplace or to a neighbor who you know will be home at the time of delivery.

Temple Police spokesman Cody Weems told 6 News that some delivery services will also hold packages at a facility upon request.

Weems also stressed that people should not leave packages or purchased gifts in their vehicles, as parked vehicles are a common target for local thieves.

Both Fulgham and Weems encouraged citizens to take all possible precautions for their items and not trust their video doorbell systems to make these packages more secure. Fulgham said mail theft cases are being resolved and thieves are being caught, but the items are usually long gone.

“Often times people steal the stuff and turn around and sell it when they let go or something,” said Fulgham.