Toronto

East Danforth residents hit by front-porch package thefts

One resident in Greenwood-Danforth neighbourhood says there were at least six package thefts in her area in recent weeks.

1 resident says at least 6 thefts have happened in her neighbourhood so far this holiday season

A package containing a Christmas gift was stolen from the Hibbard family's front porch a couple of weekends ago. (Christine Hibbard)

East Danforth residents are on high-alert this holiday season after there have been numerous reports of package thefts from front porches in the area.

Christine Hibbard, who lives in the area of Greenwood and Danforth Aves., says a neighbour came to her door a couple weekends ago because he found a ripped-open box with her address on it.

"I was expecting a shipment of Christmas gifts," Hibbard told CBC Toronto. "[Someone] took it off our porch, and probably ducked into a quiet alleyway, ripped open the box, took out the contents and disposed of the box."

And the contents? An American Girl doll she'd bought for her daughter for Christmas worth $150.

Const. Jonathan Morrice, a Toronto police Division 55 crime prevention officer, says packages and Christmas cards with money or gift cards inside them are 'very accessible to thieves.' (Jonathan Morrice/Facebook)

While Hibbard was able to get a replacement doll from Indigo for no cost, she says other area residents haven't been so fortunate.

"They didn't give me a hard time or anything, but I've heard of other people who didn't get replacements," she said.

Hibbard said around six or seven houses along her postal worker's route have been hit by package thefts recently.

'It's not uncommon'

Toronto police said package thefts are reported all across the city, with a slight increase this time of year.

It's a topic buzzed-about on local Facebook groups, too.

"I had [a] UPS delivery stolen off my porch today," wrote one member of a private group called the Danforth & Woodbine Community on Dec. 2.

"Just wanted to give everyone the [heads-up] that I had a package stolen from my doorstep," wrote someone else the day before in a group for residents of Bastedo Ave., a southbound street off Danforth Ave.

"Unfortunately, it's not uncommon in our neighbourhood."

How to avoid front-porch theft

During the holiday season, packages and Christmas cards with money and gift cards inside them are "very accessible to thieves on porches and unlocked mailboxes," wrote Toronto police's Division 55 crime prevention officer Const. Jonathan Morrice in a public Facebook post on Dec. 5.

Const. Morrice offered the following tips:

  • Ask your courier company not to leave your package on your porch. They can take it back to their main office.
  • Tell a neighbour you are having a package delivered, to watch out for it and hold it until you get home. 
  • Be alert if you see a courier truck on your street. Thieves follow them and steal packages within minutes of them being delivered. 
  • Get a strong, secure lock for your mailbox. 
  • Limit the amount of cash/gift cards you send in the mail. There are many e-transfers/online options available. 
  • If you send money/gift cards, follow up with the recipient, because they may not even know it was stolen.

Various delivery companies, from Canada Post to UPS, have options where you can have items delivered to one of their offices instead of your home. It's a bit less convenient, but it's safer than having something dropped off on a front porch.

Canada Post, for example, offers FlexDelivery, a free service where you can have packages delivered to your local post office instead of your home.

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