Police in Jersey City are partnering with Amazon on an operation aimed to catch thieves stealing holiday packages from residential homes. Law enforcement is installing doorbell cameras and planting dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city — and it has managed to catch someone on the first day of the operation.
“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said Police Capt. James Crecco, according to CNBC. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”
While it’s unknown how many people are the victims of package theft, a company commissioned by insuranceQuotes.com estimated that 26 million Americans have had a holiday package stolen from their home. Amazon, UPS and FedEx all declined to provide figures on how many packages are reported stolen or missing.
“We absolutely report them to local law enforcement when we hear of them, and we encourage our customers to do the same,” said UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara.
Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly explained that locations for the cameras and boxes were selected using the city’s crime statistics, as well as mapping theft locations provided by Amazon, which has given the equipment free of charge to law enforcement.
“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around (closed-circuit TV) or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” Kelly said. “With the bait packages, some will be under video surveillance, and some will have GPS.”
He added that the program has been approved by a municipal prosecutor, and the city wants to expand the program with assistance from Amazon.
Though Amazon declined to answer questions about the program, the eCommerce giant said in a statement, “We appreciate the increased effort by local law enforcement to tackle package theft, and remain committed to assisting however we can.”