Police Team Up With Amazon to Use Fake Packages With GPS to Track Would-Be Thieves

Image of police with Amazon package.ABC 10 News

Have you ever been waiting on a package to arrive only to have your hopes shattered when you realize it’s been snatched? It bites when some jerk steals your stuff.

Amazon, behemoth of online shopping and shipped goods, has teamed up with one New Jersey police department to catch thieves in the act. Jersey City police reached out to Amazon to partner up as part of a sting operation in the city.

The company provided their signature boxes and Amazon-branded shipping tape to the department so that decoy packages could be created. For the operation, police are planting empty boxes on doorsteps and stoops that either contain a GPS device or are under video surveillance.

If the package moves, officers respond in minutes to arrest the culprit(s). In one instance, a suspect was caught within 8 minutes of the bait being left out. The department used crime statistics from their records as well as reports from Amazon to determine the areas which had high rates of package thefts.

In some cases, police are volunteering their own homes to be bait. Officers can watch real-time camera footage from a secure room to see who is stealing and where they are. They are also able to track the GPS devices by computer. If a parcel is taken, an alarm goes off in the entire room, alerting them that officers should be sent to the location.

Members of the police force and the mayor’s office have had their packages stolen, and the city’s efforts to curb the problem are supported by the community. The Jersey City Police Department is hoping to expand the operation through Christmas and into other parts of the city.

Because this is so prevalent during the holidays, people are advised by the postal service and other shipping companies on how to protect their packages. Here are some options:

  • Purchase a parcel lockbox that requires a padlock key or code to open it.
  • Install a doorbell camera so you can see when your package arrives and to keep watch for potential thieves.
  • Use a signature requirement for your deliveries or set up a service with the carrier (like UPS) that allows you to select the time of delivery.
  • Have your packages delivered to your workplace, a friend’s house, or to your home during a time when you know you will be there.
  • Arrange for the delivery carrier to hold your packages for pickup or use Amazon’s locker depot option.
  • Amazon Prime members can check out (if you’re comfortable) their Amazon Key program which uses smart technology to allow a third party to bring the packages inside your house.

Although Jersey City is the first to partner with Amazon, sting operations have been launched in other cities around the country. Click below to learn more about this program and the stats of package theft. Protect your deliveries from theft and don’t forget to report one if it happens!

Have you ever been the victim of a package theft? What do you think of this department’s tactics? What’s your strategy for protecting your stuff?