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Cops are using Amazon boxes with tracking devices to catch package thieves

By Cal Jeffrey · 25 replies
Dec 12, 2018
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  1. Police in Jersey City have begun a sting operation in which they place fake Amazon deliveries on doorsteps to try to apprehend package pilferers. Authorities will set up homes with doorbell cameras in the area of the operation. They then "deliver" Amazon boxes embedded with GPS trackers.

    According to the Associated Press, the JCPD has been working in cooperation with Amazon to place the boxes in locations that have the highest number of reported thefts. In many cases, it did not take long for the criminals to act.

    “We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said James Crecco, the police captain in charge of the operation. “[It happened so fast] we thought it was a mistake at first.”

    Of course, the crook was captured almost as quickly.

    The setups are not always successful though, and the project is limited in scope. There is no way the department could cover as much area as it would like. However, officials are hoping that word of the operation will work as a deterrent for would-be Christmas Grinches.

    New Jersey is not the only locale employing such measures. According to CBS This Morning, police departments in Houston, Pittsburg, Los Angeles, and New York also have similar operations. So if you are a Grinch yourself, consider this a warning.

    The program has been reviewed by the city prosecutor presumably to be sure crooks could not make an entrapment case. The operation was not only given the green light, but officials would like to see the sting expanded with Amazon's help.

    Nobody is immune to this growing problem. Capt. Crecco said that even his mother was a victim. A spokesperson for the Jersey City mayor's office also told the AP that Mayor Steven Fulop had also been hit by package pirates.

    Indeed, last year someone stole a styrofoam cooler full of Omaha Steaks sent by my mother-in-law off my porch. Ironically, the thief was a neighbor. He left a note on my door a couple days later claiming that he had taken the package “by mistake” and that he had them in his freezer if I "wanted to come by to get them." Uh, no thanks.

    Permalink to story.

  2. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,184   +859

    Are wearing a wire?
  3. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,915   +699

    "He left a note on my door a couple days later claiming that he had taken the package “by mistake” and that he had them in his freezer if I "wanted to come by to get them." Uh, no thanks."

    Is something missing here? Are Omaha Steaks that terrible that you rather your neighbor suffers through eating them? Is American steak so cheap that a cooler full of it can just be passed up on as if no big deal? Please iterate on this, if my neighbor took a cooler of steaks off my door step I would want them back.
    Cal Jeffrey, Clamyboy74 and Reehahs like this.
  4. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,390   +618

    I wouldn't necessarily want food back that was taken away when I'm not sure where it went and what might have been done to it but that's just me. :)
  5. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,516   +522

    I don't get why we don't have package boxes in front of peoples houses yet. You leave it open, package is placed inside, delivery guy closes the container. The container locks. Easy?
    Underdog, rrwards, psycros and 2 others like this.
  6. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    Simple solution - ask Amazon to not leave it in front of your porch?

    might not work, in my case they used to deliver to my neighbours despite me instructing them not to do it ... took me weeks to get those packages back each time
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    I'd be calling Amazon and telling them they never delivered.
    rrwards likes this.
  8. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    I've called them and ask to get my package back from the neighbour, so I won't have to rush accross the city to catch my neighbour home - no can't do, and there is so much you can achieve with their poorly payed staff in call center. Precanned answers and they are not ashamed of blaming the driver and also make it clear that the driver is just a contractor so they are not actually guilty of anything. Pretty nauseating tbh ...
    psycros likes this.
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    That may be true but when they suggest it is not their responsibility to get the package to the correct address. That does make them guilty. It is their responsibility to make sure packages find their destination. Even if that means they have to send a new package.

    Plain and simple. If packages do not arrive at the specified address, they were never delivered. Meaning their business obligations were never met. If there is a problem in delivery service, that is still their problem.
  10. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,436   +1,014

    Remember when Amazon wanted to go into your house so that they could leave it in a locked house? Yours would be the middle ground it seems lol

    (I wouldn't exactly trust the drivers in either case though)
  11. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,670   +2,434

    What amazes me is that most of the package thieves are NOT the poor and/or homeless but rather local middle class people, most of whom live in the neighborhood. I really wish the police hadn't advertised this program - now thieves will just look closely at the box to make sure it has the right address on it. A shame its so hard to get shippers to do things like put the packages at your back door. I remember when most online retailers not only had a spot on their order pages for "special instructions" but also gave you a choice of delivery companies. Now most of them use the US Postal Service to save money even though its the least reliable major shipper, which ultimately hurts the retailers image. Personally if I lived in an area where this kind of thing was rampant I would be planting empty packages on my porch while lurking just inside the unlatched door gripping a machete and wearing a hockey mask.
    Digitalzone likes this.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    We have had UPS drop off larger packages at the backdoor.

    We are lucky though. Nearly all our neighbors are trustworthy. In a way we have an unspoken agreement, that we will all watch out for each other. Just the other day we received a package that was addressed to our neighbor. Normally we take it to them immediately. No one was home at that time. So we kept an eye out for when they came home. Unfortunately not everyone is as dedicated to helping others.
    Goamist likes this.
  13. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,308   +3,715

    From the law journal is the following:

    Entrapment Test

    The principle of entrapment has been developed over the years through case law, rather than through legislation. The courts have developed two different tests to determine whether entrapment has taken place in any given case, the “subjective,” and “objective” tests.

    Subjective test – this traditional test requires that a law enforcement official created the intent to engage in the illegal act in the mind of the defendant, and that the defendant was not inclined to commit the crime, or to commit crimes of the same type, before being lured into it by the police officer. This test is considered subjective because it depends on what actually persuaded the defendant to commit the crime.

    Objective test – this more modern interpretation of the principle considers the law enforcement official’s conduct, and whether it would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.

    This law needs a better explanation that the laymen can understand. It also needs a much better effort on the part of our schools to teach students basic do's and don'ts of the law, which very few, if any, do.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  14. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 523   +136

    1/10th of 1 percent are ever caught!
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    I've made the very same statement.
  16. Underdog

    Underdog TS Addict Posts: 104   +56

    So the problem stems from parents passing on responsibility for teaching right and wrong to the schools? Surely a parent's responsibility begins (not ends) at the point of conception.
  17. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,308   +3,715

    You make a good point but lets remember that the majority of parents across the US are not as involved in their children's upbringing as once was. And a lot of parents simply are not adept to "teach" and we need a non-editorial approach so children focus on the law and not Mom & Dad's personal opinion of it .......
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  18. Underdog

    Underdog TS Addict Posts: 104   +56

    If that is true then please stop the world. I wanna get off. I don't personally subscribe to the idea of parents passing their role to the state.
  19. ckm88

    ckm88 TS Addict Posts: 143   +101

    If your package gets stolen, and Amazon doesn't want to do anything about it, just dispute with your credit card. On a side note:

    Amazon Prime is a joke during the holidays. They promise 1 day delivery when you order the item and then they chose USPS to deliver your package. Any smart consumer would know USPS is even a bigger joke so you ain't going to get that package in a day, or two days , hell not even a week.

    So anyway, I ended up calling Amazon, canceling my Prime and got a refund. Two weeks later...I repeat, two weeks later, USPS delivers the package.

    Who all is to blame? Amazon ofcourse - for choosing such an unreliable delivery service. You're better off just ordering the item with standard free shipping and pray USPS doesn't handle it.
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    Parents role can not override law. The idea mentioned above is to teach the law. Which in turn educates the kids and possibly the parents at the same time. Instead we live our lives oblivious to what those laws may be. That is until we are presented with jail time.
  21. jason lee

    jason lee TS Rookie Posts: 18   +7

    This is an awesome program. I think they should implement this in more places.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  22. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 610   +495

    "The law."

    Which law? There are thousands of laws and where will the extra time in school come from for this pipe dream? What other subjects will they have to cut from the schedule to fit this in?

    I'm under the impression that it's the parents' responsibility to teach their kids right from wrong. Isn't pawning this off to schools just more state-sponsored socialism?
  23. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    How about all the BS that takes up 75% of their time. How about all the material that is covered over and over each year, simply because there is a new teacher. Or the fact the teacher has no control over the progression of the student outside of student syllabus.

    Student syllabus is a dumb down version of controlling how slow the student learns. Instead of teaching that which we need to live our lives. We are taught BS that hardly anyone carries with them passed high school. If they are going to teach cookie cutter basics, it should be cookie cutter basics that keep us out of prison. After all, that is the concept behind teaching history. However teaching history is not enough. Yet we would rather spend our time reading and writing science fiction or playing sports. Somewhere along the way our school system has lost perspective on what it means to attend school.

    I truly believe they leave law out of student syllabus, because they want a reason to collect taxes on us being in jail. It is their business model to keep prisoners. They pat us on the back send us on our way, just hoping we give them the opportunity to collect. There is no better way of doing this than the lack of education.
  24. i3kingwizardop

    i3kingwizardop TS Booster Posts: 41   +17

    That's what happens and then prices go up just like every other loss situation.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    That is the good thing about competition. They can't afford to raise the price much before demand goes elsewhere.

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