This is the season for giving. It's also the season for taking ... from front porches and doorsteps.
And package theft is worse than ever, with some thieves now brazenly following delivery drivers and grabbing Amazon boxes moments after they are delivered.
We've seen the videos from all over the country of thieves snatching packages from front doorsteps. Most recently, a Seattle-area nanny stopped a package thief in action, holding her until police responded.
Some bring empty boxes with them, to swap them out with the ones that they steal, leaving homeowners without their gifts.
How to fight "porch pirates"
So how can you protect your deliveries this month?
1. Start by looking up the estimated delivery time, and make sure someone is home. If it is being shipped by FedEx, UPS or a temporary Amazon driver, you can usually get a time range.
2. If it is coming by mail, ask the postal service to hold it.
3. Arrange for a neighbor to watch for it and sign for it if necessary.
4. Have it delivered to your workplace if allowed (this works for most private offices, but obviously not if you work in large corporate campus, government building, restaurant, etc.).
5. Ask your local police department if they will accept the delivery. More and more will. In the Cincinnati area, the following police departments will now happily accept all packages for local homeowners during the holiday season, and hold them in a locked room for pickup:
6. Finally, consider Amazon's new Amazon Key service, where you purchase a digital door lock and the delivery man gets a temporary code to open your front door and put the package inside.
While this may be the wave of the future, response so far has been tepid. Judging by Twitter responses, it's going to be a long time before people warm up to the idea.
It has potential. Unfortunately, many people are still not keen on the idea of giving the delivery man a key to their home ... even if its just for a minute.
So the bottom line: If you or a loved one is not going to be home when a package is expected this month, do everyone a favor and have it delivered somewhere else so you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com