This Bay Area Police Department plants ‘decoy’ packages to deter porch pirates

The Sunnyvale Police Department said it has placed “several” packages of decoys on doorsteps across town to help deter would-be package thieves.

“Porch pirates, beware, you never know what’s in that package you’re trying to steal!” The ministry wrote in a Facebook post.

“Steal a package and you could end up with more than you wanted,” the post said.

Captain Hank Syu told The Chronicle that the department will not disclose the contents of the packages, “but we are making it as realistic as possible so these thieves don’t know it was a decoy.”

Syu said the police department had received permission from the owners to place “several” packages on the doorsteps. He declined to say how many were put around town.

Decoy packages are one way the department tries to prevent package theft during the holiday season, Syu said.

A team of officers who are part of what the department calls the “Holiday Burglary Suppression Detail” is “in the community to try and prevent burglaries and thieves and things like that during this time,” said he declared.

The police department also urged residents to have their packages delivered while they are at home to avoid theft or not to leave any valuables in their vehicles.

“Part of this is really about educating our residents and making sure they understand that they are also our eyes and ears in our community,” added Syu.

Incidents of “porch hacking” – the theft of packages from doorsteps, lobbies and people’s entryways – are not new. They have become a trend during the holiday season and are often captured by surveillance cameras.

Some police departments have placed GPS tracking devices inside decoys in the hope of finding and arresting thieves. Packages generally look like any other package a person might receive at their doorstep.

Some owners have placed decoys on their doorstep with things like dog droppings and glitter bombs to surprise thieves.

Jessica Flores is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: jessica.flores@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @jesssmflores

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