New Jersey police use Amazon box as bait to catch thieves
- Police in Jersey City, New Jersey, are coordinating with Amazon to plant fake Amazon parcels with GPS tracking on doorsteps equipped with doorbell cameras in a sting operation to catch thieves, reported the Associated Press.
- Police officers said one box sat out for just three minutes before it was taken; the culprit was later caught.
- Similar operations involving various package carriers have taken place in Washington, California, Utah and New Mexico, according to AP.
The size of the problem of package theft is not firmly understood, and carriers do not release data on the subject, but even a tiny percentage of the hundreds of millions of packages that will be delivered this year makes for a large number.
In a 2017 survey, 31% of respondents reported having a package stolen in their lifetime according to the Shorr Package Theft Report. 53% reported changing their plans to receive a package even though it didn't require a signature and 41% refrain from purchasing certain items, most commonly electronics, online because of the possibility of theft.
Urban areas, like Jersey City, are particularly affected, which has led to several venture-backed tech solutions along with options from the carriers themselves.
Latch makes a digital lock that can be operated remotely to offer access to buildings for package delivery. Amazon's answer is a similar digital lock. Starship Technologies employs package delivery robots that set a convenient delivery window with customers using an automated text message system.
Carriers have added options like pickup lockers, requiring a signature, store pickup, delivery rerouting and greater visibility into the path of package but often still recommend finding a secure address to send packages as the best way to avoid theft.
New efforts by law enforcement to crack down on package theft may offer another valuable, albeit lower-tech tool against package theft: deterrence.
For customers, who often end up bearing the expense, the consequence of package theft is money and time spent reporting and pursuing a claim. But for carriers, on top of the time spent responding to claims, the penalty can be serious reputational harm.
LaserShip for example, was the subject of a searing report in New York Magazine last year that called the carrier "the most hated company on the internet."
- Associated Press Sting uses fake Amazon boxes, GPS to catch would-be thieves
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