Police in Wake Forest say they've arrested a local couple accused of being "porch pirates."
Rafael Perez, from Wake Forest, and Leticia Aldea-Flores, of Raleigh, were arrested on Tuesday following a tip. Police say they stopped a pizza delivery vehicle traveling along Heritage Lake Road and discovered several stolen packages inside.
Perez and Aldea-Flores have been charged each with six counts of larceny and seven counts of possession of stolen goods. Both are now in the Wake County Detention Center.
The packages were from neighborhoods along Colonial Club Road, San Remo Place, Heritage Reserve Court, Highgate Circle, Coral Bell Drive and Meadow Flowers Avenue. Additional packages were found addressed to homes along Heritage Arbor Drive.
Wake Forest Police are encouraging area residents to be mindful of the following tips to help avoid being the target of porch pirates:
Require Package Signature
If you have to sign for your items, then your packages cannot be left on the doorstep. Instead, the courier will leave a note letting you know the date they will try to make another delivery or where you can pick up the item instead.
Deliver Packages to Your Work
If allowed, have all of your items delivered to your place of work. It may be a bit more inconvenient to load up items and take them home, but at least they will not be stolen.
Delivery Service Tracking
Sign up for delivery service notifications. Both FedEx and UPS offer these services for free. You get an alert when a package is set to be delivered. That way, you can arrange for someone to be home when it will arrive. If you are a member of UPS My Choice, you can upgrade your service for an annual fee. This will allow you to change the delivery address for any package or even change the delivery date to fit your schedule. That way, it will not be left on your doorstep.
Deliver to a Friend or Family Member
If you know someone who is home during the day, you might ask to use their address for delivery. That way, it will not sit on a doorstep and risk being stolen.
Designate a Specific Delivery Location
The USPS can allow you to authorize them to leave packages at locations other than the porch. Other locations may include a back door, side door, neighbor or even a garage. To find out if this is an option, create an account with the USPS and enter your package tracking number.
Use a Secure Mailbox Service
Sign up for a PO Box at the post office or even a location such as the UPS Store. You can have all packages delivered to these locations, and they will be held securely until you stop by and pick them up. There are fees associated with these services, but it might end up saving you money on those packages that are at risk of being stolen.
Be a Good Neighbor
Get to know your neighbors to help one another out by picking up packages you see outside, then send texts or emails to alert one another what you've done. That way the parcels are safe inside and won't be grabbed by thieves.
Always, as a good neighbor, be alert and report all crime and suspicious activity. If you see a package being stolen from a neighbor's home, call 911 and report a "crime in progress."
In addition, if you see someone acting suspicious or a vehicle that might be casing the neighborhood, call police immediately with an accurate description of the suspect(s) and / or vehicle as well as exactly what they were doing. Being a good neighbor is always the best defense against crime.