COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — With the Christmas shopping season upon us, many are choosing to purchase gifts on the internet to be delivered to their front doors. Unfortunately, their packages can be stolen. Command Sgt. Alan Malone of the Columbus Police Department shared things you should know about package theft, including how to prevent it or deal with it when it occurs.

Malone said that although package thieves can strike at any time of the year, they tend to be more of a problem during the Christmas season.

“They would expect that there could be possible Christmas presents or valuables that may be delivered during this time frame, and they take advantage of that opportunity to commit the theft for their own personal gain,” he said.

If you probably won’t be around when a package is delivered, Malone recommends installing security cameras at your home or having a neighbor receive the package for you.

If you see one or more people acting suspiciously in your neighborhood, he said to call the police.

“We advise all citizens, when a crime is actively in progress and there’s a suspect on-scene, definitely call 911 to get that call in,” he said.

Malone said to give a detailed description of the activity you witnessed and descriptions of the vehicles and suspects involved.

“Taking the time to call and report this type of activity can help prevent the crime from occurring and also potentially help save someone’s life if you see some sort of criminal activity that’s occurring or about to occur,” he said.

If your package seems to have been stolen, even if you didn’t witness the crime, it may be worth it to call 911, as the person or people who did it might still be in the area. Malone said they may be caught on other people’s cameras.

Malone couldn’t say how many package thefts are reported to the Columbus Police Department each year, but it’s a common crime across the country. A September 2020 survey by Finder found that roughly 14% of Americans said they’d been victims of package theft in the past 12 months. In total, over that time span, Finder says Americans lost $5.4 billion from package theft.