New Berlin police issuing warning about "delivery theft"

NEW BERLIN (WITI) -- New Berlin police are issuing a warning to folks who are shipping and receiving gifts this holiday season. Police say there may be a grinch looking to steal items delivered to people's homes for the holidays.

Dean Zettel says he's an online shopper who has items delivered to his front door.

"I don't have to go anywhere, and it gets delivered for free," Zettel said.

But what if he's not home?

"Then I'm taking a chance where I could probably -- I've thought about it -- where somebody might be able to take it," Zettel said.

It's being called "delivery theft."

"I think December is the number one package month. I just read online that people spent $1.75 billion on Cyber Monday," New Berlin Police Captain Mike Glider said.

Glider says with so many people doing so much online ordering during this time of the year, plenty of purchases are being placed on porches, where there is potential for problems.

"We've had cases where we've had bad people following UPS trucks and just going and picking up things after they deliver it. They come and pick it up. It's that easy," Captain Glider said.

Captain Glider says it's relatively easy for consumers to protect their purchases by choosing a shipping option that requires a signature for delivery, or picking up the package at a shipping company's distribution center.

"Or have the package delivered to a neighbor's house that you trust if you're not gonna be home. Leave a note on the door for UPS or FedEx saying, you know, 'Please deliver it next door. They'll sign for it.' Or have it delivered at work," Captain Glider said.

Captain Glider says legal penalties for theft are not as harsh as those for burglary, which may make delivery theft a more attractive alternative to burglarizing a home.