Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us, and with it the specter of porch pirates stealing merchandise delivered by the USPS, Amazon, FedEx, or UPS.

KGVO News spoke with Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Whitney Bennett this week about how to keep your gifts and packages safe from what is commonly called ‘porch pirates’.

Missoula Police Tips on Stopping Holiday 'Porch Pirates'

"With the holiday season upon us and online shopping at a peak, it's just really crucial to be extra cautious as these steps become more enticing to criminals,” began Officer Bennett. “At the Missoula police department we urge the community to stay vigilant and proactive in safeguarding their delivered packages.”

Officer Bennett had more helpful tips on keeping packages from being stolen right off your porch this holiday season.

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Officer Bennett Recommends Delivery that Requires a Signature

“These crimes are often opportunistic, relying on unattended packages as an easy target,” she said. “To minimize the risk we're recommending selecting options that require a signature upon delivery, or just opting to pick up packages at the post office at a convenient time. If you're anticipating a delivery, maybe you can make arrangements to be present during these designated delivery windows. Just ensure your package is not left unattended.”

Bennett said safety is of utmost importance, but if you see someone removing a package from your neighbor’s property, to be a reliable witness and contact 9-1-1.

If you Witness Porch Piracy Contact 9-1-1 Immediately

“Calling 9-1-1 and letting authorities handle the incident is obviously what we want,” she said. “However, if you feel you need to do something for the greater good of the community then please step up and do so. Try to prevent the theft, if possible, or try to get a license plate if someone's in a vehicle, get a description of the person and contact us.”

Bennett also recommended installing a camera to provide more security for your property, and to help identify a suspect if a crime is committed.

She said porch piracy can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item or items stolen. Montana Code Annotated states that any theft of property exceeding $1,500 is a felony.

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