When Danger Comes Knocking…

Dear Reader,

On Black Friday this year, 154 million Americans — or about six in 10 — did some sort of shopping, and almost half of that number — 44%, to be precise — purchased items online.

Clearly, online shopping trends don’t show any sign of slowing down — in fact, retailers expect to see a 13% jump in online sales for 2016.

While online shopping surely makes life a little easier, there is a threat most people don’t consider…

On Nov. 22, 2016, Lawrence Berry was at his home in Houston, Texas, with his wife and two daughters when he heard a knock at the door around 8:40 p.m. Through the door, Mr. Berry saw a UPS driver, who called out that he needed a signature for a package he was to deliver.

As Mr. Berry opened the front door, the deliveryman forced his way inside the home, quickly followed by three men, all of whom were carrying guns.

Once inside the home, the intruders beat Mr. Berry. He tried to fight them off, giving his wife and daughters enough time to run and hide in a closet. During the struggle, one of the criminals fired his gun, but luckily, no one was hit. Then the suspects quickly ransacked the Berrys’ home, stealing several pieces of jewelry as well as some collectable firearms.

Thankfully, Mr. Berry survived the home invasion, although he was treated for a fractured skull that required 28 staples to the back of his head.

The Houston Police Department is working closely with UPS to figure out how the ringleader obtained a UPS uniform, and the police are following any and all leads in an attempt to capture these dangerous criminals.

Since many of us will be receiving packages from online retailers or family members over the next several days, here are some tips to stay safe when a delivery person comes knocking:

1) Don’t require a signature — I realize a lot of people request a signature upon delivery to ensure the package isn’t just left outside. The problem with that is you have to interact with a delivery person for every package you receive.

If you don’t require a signature, they can just leave the package on your doorstep for you to retrieve once they are gone. This way, you’ll never have to worry about answering the door for a complete stranger.

2) Monitor the tracking — With technology these days, major delivery companies are able to give accurate tracking information and frequent updates. If you are expecting a delivery, you can track it online and see the precise date (and sometimes the exact time) your package should arrive.

Obviously, if you’re receiving a ton of packages from relatives, you won’t always know what’s coming. If an unexpected package shows up, talk to the delivery person through the door. Ask them who the package is from to verify if it is indeed from a friend or relative.

3) Pick up at retail location — Most delivery companies have retail locations all over the U.S. — for example, UPS has The UPS Store and FedEx has FedEx Office. You can request to have your package delivered to a retail location near you.

Then you can pick up the package at your convenience without the risk that comes with having a stranger come to your front door. By picking up your packages at the store, you also won’t have to worry about it being stolen while sitting on your porch.

With the holidays getting ever nearer, delivery companies will be working longer hours, often delivering late into the night. One company has already said they will offer regular delivery until 8 p.m., due to the high demand.

When shopping online, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind. They could prevent you from being tricked by a crafty criminal posing as a delivery person. And like I always say, trust your gut.

If something doesn’t quite seem right, don’t open the door. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk to the delivery person through the door to determine if the drop-off is legitimate. Ask questions like, “Who is the sender?” and “Who is it addressed to?”

A little bit of sleuthing goes a long way, especially as more and more criminals are finding sneaky ways to get into the holiday spirit — and your home.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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