Technology and teamwork are helping officials in one New Jersey city fight back against the Grinches who steal packages off the porches of online shoppers.
Jersey City, New Jersey, police have partnered with Amazon in a pilot project to determine whether the use of doorbell cameras and dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices inside can deter thieves, The Associated Press reported.
So far, the results are positive, said Jersey City spokeswoman Ashley Manz, according to NJ.com.
It didn’t take long to see how effective the tools, combined with a concerted effort by the police department’s burglary unit, could be.
“Eight minutes after we put the program into action (Monday), we caught someone,” said Manz. Three people had been arrested by noon, she said.
The next day, the results were the same.
With the theft of Amazon packages on the rise, the Jersey City, NJ police dept. has placed “dummy” boxes around the city with GPS tracking devices inside to hunt down the crooks.
One package didn’t even last more than *3 minutes* before it was swiped. https://t.co/Xx8WFdrSoM
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) December 12, 2018
“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” police Capt. James Crecco said. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”
Police Chief Michael Kelly said technology is the key to success.
“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around CCTV or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” Kelly said. “With the bait packages, some will be under video surveillance, and some will have GPS.”
#JCPD has deployed its Package Theft systems in all parts of #JerseyCity with real packages. Volunteers have agreed to help us monitor activity with Ring Cameras & GPS devices. We are also watching delivery trucks to prevent crimes of opportunity. We want to DETER by announcing.
— Michael J. Kelly (@JCPDchief) December 10, 2018
Estimating thefts of packages from porches or front doors is an inexact science, but a survey done for InsuranceQuotes.com led to the estimate that one in 12 Americans has been a victim. Manz said Amazon estimated between 400 and 500 package thefts took place per year in Jersey City.
Amazon did not release numbers, but the company, which is buying the technology used in the Jersey City program, said it is grateful for the help.
“We appreciate the increased effort by local law enforcement to tackle package theft and remain committed to assisting however we can,” Amazon spokesman Ernesto Apreza said in a statement.
The company has worked with other partners to implement similar programs.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, so-called bait packages with GPS tracking inside are being left on the porches of homeowners who volunteer to help the police and Amazon crack down on thefts, according to KRQE-TV.
“We want to get these guys into custody and make them aware that we’re out there looking for them,” said Officer Simon Drobik.
“We’ve pre-determined where these packages are going,” Drobik said. “We’re working with the public, working with different businesses, entities that the city has already owned to leave these packages at their doorstep.”
Drobik said the high-tech approach helps the department respond to complaints in a more cost-effective fashion.
“We don’t have to sit there traditionally, watch a street and eat up man-hours,” he said. “We can just wait for the crook to come take the bait.”
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