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Using home security cameras can help catch “porch pirates,” which is the term used to describe people who steal packages from porches. 

 It’s the Christmas season, which for many means online shopping and/or sending gifts across the country. Approximately 11 million homeowners said a package was stolen from their porch in the last year, according to parcelpending.com

 How to prevent the theft of your packages: 

 Lt. Jeff Cross of the Fenton Police Department said stolen packages do not happen very often in the city. He estimated they had fewer than 10 reports of it last year. 

 “Have packages delivered to your place of business or to an address where someone over 18 will be there to sign for the package,” he said. 

 In Linden, Police Chief Scott Sutter said this isn’t an issue there. He advises shoppers to track the packages online and know which company is handling the delivery. Save the receipt. 

 “Request a signature confirmation upon delivery. This prevents the delivery person from leaving the package unattended,” he said. “Request a time for the package to be delivered when you’re at home. Ask the delivery company to leave your packages somewhere it can’t be seen from the street.”

 He also recommends installing home security cameras, both as a deterrent and to assist police in case you become a victim of “porch pirates.” Request delivery alerts so you know when your package arrives. 

 “Many delivery companies offer — at no cost — text notification to your cell phone when a package has been delivered,” Sutter said. 

 A bill recently passed by the Michigan legislature will make stealing packages from porches a misdemeanor on first offense punishable by up to a year in jail. On a second offense, they could be charged with a felony. 

 Sutter said previously, they would charge someone who committed this crime with larceny. The penalty was dependent on the amount stolen. If the package was worth less than $200, it was a 93-day misdemeanor and/or a $500 fine. If items worth $200 to $1,000 were stolen, it was punishable by up to a year in jail and/or not more than a $2,000 fine. Anything over $1,000 was a felony. 

 Police Chief Dan Allen of the Argentine Township Police Department said they have no reported incidents from this year or last year. 

 “If you are going to be away, have someone pick up your packages and hold onto them for you,” he said. 

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