Doorstep theft is a crime of opportunity. And come Christmas, the opportunities increase exponentially.
"From Black Friday to Christmas Eve is our busiest time of year," said Fed Ex spokesperson Katie Wassmer. "This year we predicted about 290 million packages to be shipped throughout our network."
UPS' forecasted numbers were nearly twice that.
Though national statistics on doorstep theft are hard to come by, holiday headlines on box bandits are not. On Monday, Arlington County (Virginia) police arrested a man they say is responsible for stealing more than 40 packages from Washington D.C.-area doorsteps over the past several weeks.
But also making the news are creative ways to combat the crimes, and not just with surveillance cameras.
Last week, after realizing someone had stolen a package containing a $200 fishing reel from the front hall of their Salem, Massachusetts apartment building, two neighbors set out to catch the culprit in the act by using a bait box -- sealed, labeled and made to look as realistic as possible.
Twenty-five minutes later, they spotted a woman who regularly walked her dog in the area carrying the package under her arm. The woman was arrested. Upon searching her apartment, Salem Police Detective Dan Tucker not only found the stolen fishing reel, he found a "WWE Smackdown" toy shipped from Amazon.com that his own sister had reported missing earlier in the day.
The woman admitted to taking the items—but only to regift them as Christmas presents.
Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after being caught on camera stealing two Priority Mail boxes… full of trash. The trap was set by a woman who had several packages stolen from the front porch of the homeless ministry she operates.
One apparently popular deterrent? Decoy packages of dog excrement.
A woman in the same D.C. neighborhood plagued by the serial package pirate has become a minor celebrity for tempting would-be thieves with boxes filled with excrement from her own two dogs.
"I have a shovel that I use to pick up their dog poo, so instead of just shoveling it into a garbage bag, I shoveled it into a box," Andrea Hutzler told ABC7.com.
"I think he would be gone for good because he'll never know what I’ll be putting in a box.”
Hutzler isn’t the only one who decided to send a stinky special delivery.
After twice having online-ordered Christmas presents stolen from his front porch, a Vallejo, California man took karma into his own hands, which he hopefully later washed.
"I filled up the third box with dog crap," Bryan Nalette told KPIX 5. "I wish I could’ve been there in the car when they opened up the box."