Whether you are up and at em for Cyber Monday, or refuse to start Christmas shopping until December 1, make sure you read these tips before you start punching those credit card digits.

With the holiday shopping season officially here, Chief Brian Levesque and the Dartmouth Police Department wish to remind residents of several precautions they can take when ordering items online to help prevent their gifts from falling into the wrong hands.

"As the holiday season approaches, package theft increases due to the influx of online orders and deliveries," said Chief Levesque. "We urge residents to protect themselves from theft by taking a few additional safety measures, which can go a long way in making it more difficult for thieves to steal gifts meant for your family and friends."

To best ensure that your packages are not taken after they are delivered, Dartmouth Police recommends the following tips:

  • Request notifications on your deliveries, via phone or email, to monitor your packages in transit and upon delivery. FedEx and UPS offer services to assist customers during the holidays.
  • Always require a signature on your deliveries to ensure packages are never left unattended.
  • Consider sending deliveries to an alternate location where someone will be able to receive them – whether that be a workplace, a neighbor or friend’s house, or a FedEx or UPS location.
  • Schedule your delivery for a specific date and time that you’re expected to be home.
  • Set up a vacation hold if you plan on traveling during the holidays so gifts won’t be left on the doorstep.
  • Be aware of “tailgating,” which refers to people who follow delivery vehicles and steal packages after they are dropped off.
  • If you find your package has been stolen, immediately report it to Dartmouth Police.
  • Never accept a surprise delivery where a payment is required, and never give out personal information when receiving a delivery that you purchased as it may be a scam.

Additionally, any suspicious people or vehicles should immediately be reported to the Dartmouth Police Department at 508-910-1700.

Chief Levesque would also like to offer tips to holiday shoppers on how to avoid any incidents or theft while shopping in stores and online:

  • As more people are on the road during the holiday season, be sure to drive carefully. Be patient when looking for a parking space. Don't speed up in a parking lot to catch an empty spot. Look for other cars or people when backing out of a parking space, and back out slowly.
  • Keep shopping bags out of plain sight in your vehicle, preferably in your trunk.
  • Keep your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket.
  • Save your receipts and monitor your credit card activity.
  • When shopping online, stick to retailers you know or have shopped with before.
  • Don't use public Wi-Fi to make purchases in order to prevent hackers from intercepting your information.

The men and women of the Dartmouth Police Department wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season.

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