Many police departments have issued warnings over the last few years to be extra vigilant against package theft. They’ve posted articles on how to prevent package theft. Notably, the Seattle Police Department’s email newsletter from October 2015 focused on the issue. These efforts to prevent package theft are crucial for lots of reasons. As we’ve said here (like a broken record), package theft is a crime of opportunity, and so preventing the opportunity is the best way to solve it. A bit of effort on the front end prevents massive and often futile efforts on the backend. Or as the cliche goes, an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure, whatever. But there are other reasons so many police departments are trying to educate the public on how to prevent package theft.
One major reason is that it’s hard to recover or investigate stolen packages and police forces don’t have the resources to investigate every case with the string of budget cuts following the 2008 economic downturn. The Chicago Police Department has even stopped accepting stolen package reports. The article explains that the police department decided to start refusing reports of package theft because stolen packages aren’t yet signed for and therefore aren’t in the person’s possession. However, when police budgets are cut, departments have to start prioritizing what they can investigate. This has been a serious issue over the last handful of years. Police departments across the country have had to make deep cuts, resulting in fewer officers and resources for policing. So, if you’re hoping to rely on police to find your stolen package, your chances aren’t good. They do keep records, so it’s worth filling out a police report, but it’s better to follow the many departments’ advice and invest in package theft prevention (we might be biased, but it’s true).
But let’s say you do have your package stolen. Is it worth going to the police? Except if you live in Chicago, certainly! In Seattle, you can file a police report online for theft up of items up to $500, which covers many packages. While they may not be able to recover your package, filing reports give police vital statistics to better understand trends of crime. These reports will allow them to better direct their resources, particularly if you live in an area where package theft is high. Also, it’s important to note that many insurance companies and carriers require you to file a police report to make a claim for your stolen package. This helps them prevent fraud (some people do try to game the system).
All this said package theft is a serious issue and one that can be dealt with through prevention. If it does happen, however, you can file a police report, and it’s important that you do so. Some police departments have online systems to file a report. Otherwise, you can call into their non-emergency line to get more information about the specifics (it’s not a 911 emergency after all). This report will allow an investigation occur if there are resources for it, and at least will help you work with the carrier and your insurance company to find some resolution.