Beware of Grinch: Huntsville Police offers tips on protecting holiday purchases

single-meta-cal December 8, 2021

With nearly three weeks left in the holiday season, shoppers are making lists, checking them twice and looking for deals online and in traditional stores.

While having packages shipped to a residence is a luxury, it can also increase your chances of falling victim to a Grinch. To that end, Huntsville Police General Investigator Bobby Brady offered some tips on how to avoid being a victim of crime:

Remain vigilant

  • Track online orders and set up delivery alerts.
  • Add delivery instructions to leave a package in a specific location, preferably out of sight from passersby.
  • Retrieve your packages or coordinate pickup by a neighbor upon delivery.
  • Ask the shipper to hold packages at their facility so they can be picked up in person.
  • Request a signature upon delivery.
  • If you see a suspicious vehicle, call police or a snap a picture. In the event of a missing package, a picture could help solve a crime.

If a package is stolen:

  • Immediately report the theft to police.
  • Give a detailed description of the stolen item(s).
  • Turn over any surveillance video of the crime.
  • Provide officers with contact names, phone numbers and addresses of neighbors who might have surveillance video of the incident.
  • When contacted by an HPD investigator, please respond promptly.

HPD encourages crime victims to call police and file a report. In some instances, investigators are contacted about crimes posted to social media that aren’t directly reported to police.

In most “porch pirate” cases, it is the victim’s responsibility to pursue charges through the magistrate’s office. Brady said Alabama law only allows investigators to obtain warrants if the items stolen are valued at more than $500.

To report a crime or a suspicious person, call HPD’s nonemergency line at 256-722-7100. In the event of an immediate threat, please dial 911.