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Cambridgeshire police issue warning over doorstep parcel thefts

Thefts of parcels left on doorsteps are thought to be on the rise in Cambridgeshire as more people rely on deliveries amid the pandemic.

With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, police have issued a warning to householders.

Parcels left on doorsteps can be a magnet for thieves (43507671)
Parcels left on doorsteps can be a magnet for thieves (43507671)

On Thursday, they carried out plain clothes patrols in Cambourne after reports that parcels have been going missing.

On social media, residents have reported similar problems in Milton, Histon, Littleport, Wyton and St Ives, as thieves take advantage of the rise in contactless deliveries.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary police said on Thursday: “We’ve been carrying out plain clothes patrols in Cambourne today following concerns that people’s parcels are going missing.

“Various delivery firm vans were observed delivering parcels and several drivers including one from Amazon and a Royal Mail postman spoken with and informed of the local concerns.

“If you are expecting a delivery and you are not going to be in, make sure your secure place is secure and not a shed/garage/outhouse or even behind the plant pot that can be seen and accessed by anyone or your front doorstep.

“Ideally, ask the company you have ordered with to pass on instructions to the delivery firm to leave with a trusted neighbour or rearrange your delivery for when you will be at home, or send to your place of work if urgent and your employer doesn’t mind.

“If you believe your parcel has been stolen, report it to us online www.cambs.police.uk/report. We can’t be everywhere but we can be somewhere.”

Some householders, keen to maintain physical distancing, prefer not to open the door until a driver has left.

While some delivery companies require their workers to take photographs of parcels being taken in to the home, many will allow customers to indicate where they would like their parcel left.

Hermes says: “We’re encouraging customers to choose their preferred safe place for deliveries by downloading our app and setting their preferences using MyPlaces. This will ensure all future Hermes deliveries will be delivered to the same safe place. Alternatively, parcels can be diverted to a chosen safe place at any time during the delivery process. If a safe place hasn’t been chosen but there is somewhere safe to deliver the parcel, we’ll leave it there and include a photo in the delivery notification email.

“If a signature is required, our courier will knock on the door and step aside to allow the customer to answer. The courier will then take a photo of the parcel in the open doorway as proof of delivery.

“We’ve added a delivery notification for customers when non-contact deliveries are made in this way. If there is no answer, we’ll attempt delivery a total of three times before returning the parcel to the sender.”

Meanwhile, DPD says: “Your driver is required to hand over the parcel at the point of delivery, unless we have your permission to leave the parcel somewhere safe. The parcel sender is expecting a signature as proof of delivery, instead of a signature, our driver takes a photo of the parcel in the doorway to prove it was handed over. If you dont want to open the door, you can ensure you still have your parcel delivered by posting a note to your front door instructing our driver where your parcel should be left.”

For those self-isolating, DPD says: “Simply leave a signed note, attached to your front door, instructing our driver where your parcel should be left. He will take a photo of the signed note, along with a photo of where he has left your parcel as proof of delivery.”

Amazon says: “Amazon’s delivery associates and partners have been advised to reduce contact with customers, this may include placing packages at the customer’s doorstep and stepping back. If an ID check is required, the driver will complete the check at a distance. You can also choose a safe place location where the driver can leave your package if you can’t answer the door. Drivers are asked to follow your delivery preference where possible. You are able to set your delivery preference during checkout on the Review your order screen by clicking on Add delivery instructions and selecting your desired safe place option.

“In order to protect customers and their neighbours, we will only deliver parcels to neighbours when asked to do so by our customers. Please ask your chosen neighbour to confirm they are comfortable accepting parcels on your behalf before asking us to deliver to your neighbour. We will be unable to deliver to your neighbour in cases of local lockdown.”

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