Janet Kwak, Rodney Danson
As gifts ordered online start arriving, thieves are taking advantage of the unattended boxes. Janet Kwak reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2012.
When Howard Wallack ordered Christmas gifts for his family, he wondered why a sculpture he had bought for his daughter never showed up.
"I went on the Internet, checked the delivery, saw that four boxes were delivered, but only three were at my front door. I checked my security cameras," Wallack said.
He said he solved the mystery with surveillance video from outside his home which shows a UPS driver delivering four packages. Then fifteen minutes later, a cautious stranger walked up to his front door.
"A thief who had been, I think, following him, comes up to our front door and steals one of the boxes plus an envelope," Wallack said.
The holiday heist cost him $1,500, he said.
Stealing from doorsteps, or porch pirating, peaks during the holidays, according to police. That's when the season for giving gifts is also a time for preying Christmas crooks.
The U.S. Postal Service had more than 2,000 reported mail thefts last year.
This week in Yorba Linda, officers arrested Edward Rangel, 36, after a resident told police she saw two men steal parcels from her porch and take off in a sedan.
Eight to 10 packages were found in the car, leading investigators to believe there may be more victims.
But it's not just homeowners who may be targeted.
"I also spoke to my FedEx driver, and he has the same concern," Wallack said. "He's telling me he constantly now has to check his mirrors before he gets out of his truck to make sure someone's not following him."
Because this type of crime is hard to track, delivery companies suggest preventing thefts by using signature or delivery confirmation when ordering online.