Howard County police urge residents to track their deliveries from online shopping this holiday season to prevent theft of packages left outside front doors.

Online purchases increase around the holidays, spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said, and packages are delivered to doorsteps and porches. The department has not received any reports of package thefts at this time, but police ask that residents who are expecting any purchases to track their shipments so they know when they are due to be delivered.

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Llewellyn said if residents can't be home to receive deliveries, they should have packages delivered to their work address or have the delivery company leave the package in a hidden area outside the home. Residents can also ask a neighbor to take the package inside until they get home, she said.

Residents participating in Black Friday shopping should also stay alert by shopping with a group; parking in a well-lit area; keeping packages in the trunk of their cars; and hiding any valuables left inside the car, such as cellphones or purses. To report a stolen package, contact police at 410-313-2200.

Police are preparing for the busy shopping season with increased car, foot and bike patrols around shopping areas, neighborhoods and roadways, Llewellyn said. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the spokeswoman said some officers will patrol in uniform, while others will be dressed in plain clothing to help prevent robberies, shoplifting and theft.

More patrol cars will also be searching for impaired drivers starting this weekend, she said, in addition to enforcing speeding, parking violations and use of seat belts and child safety seats.



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