With more people spending December at home while new regional statewide shelter orders are in effect, Tri-Valley law enforcement told the Weekly that residents should still eliminate any lingering opportunities for thieves this holiday season.
"Though we anticipate fewer property-related crimes since less people will be at local retail centers, our staff is prepared to handle any situation," Pleasanton Police Chief David Swing said.
Overall, the Pleasanton Police Department is anticipating that residents and businesses will "continue acting appropriately and accordingly" during the holidays.
Dublin has experienced a significant reduction in crime this year compared to 2019, which Police Chief Garrett Holmes attributed to various restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Auto and residential burglaries, as well as retail thefts, are down due to more people shopping online and working from home. Overall, year-to-date crimes against people in Dublin are down 14%, and property crimes shrank by 32%.
However, Holmes said, "We are starting to see package thefts from porches increase as many people are having their merchandise shipped to their residence."
Dublin Police Services will have increased staff -- including marked and unmarked patrol vehicles, as well as officers on bike and foot patrol -- as part of a "Holiday Crime Suppression Detail," which will "target crime trends that are common during the holiday season."
Livermore Police Department has also "seen a few positive trends" during stay-at-home orders such as no residential burglaries being reported during Thanksgiving week, according to Officer Taylor Burruss.
"If the correlating factor is in fact people being at home, then we would expect to see those numbers remain low through the season," Burruss said.
Like Dublin and Pleasanton, "every year there is an increase in package theft around this time" in Livermore, Burruss added.
All three departments gave similar crime prevention and safety tips for residents to exercise, both on the streets and at home.
Burruss recommends homeowners consider investing in high-quality security camera systems: "In many cases, they act as a deterrent and, if not, they capture evidence we may otherwise not have."
Community residents should be "alert and aware," report suspicious circumstances, and have descriptive details ready for call operators to better assist.
Law enforcement suggested that people shopping in person should park their vehicle in a well-lit area and make sure all of the doors and windows are shut and locked. Be sure to avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and use checks or credit cards when possible.
Also lock packages, bags or valuables in the trunk, or make sure they are concealed if your car doesn't have a trunk. Never leave unattended packages on floors or counters while inside stores.
When walking back to the car, officials said have your keys in your hand, be cautious of strangers approaching them in the parking lot, and avoid being distracted by not talking or texting on their cell phones. Make sure to scan the inside of your car to ensure no one is hiding behind any seats.
Women should carry purses under their arms, and men should keep their wallets in an interior coat pocket or front pants pocket.
Livermore PD also provided a detailed list of tips specifically for package theft prevention:
1. Have your packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, such as a neighbor's or relative's house.
2. If it is an option for you, consider having your package delivered to your workplace.
3. When making a purchase online, if the retailer provides the option, choose a specific delivery time when you will be home.
4. If purchasing from a larger retailer, consider having your package delivered to a local store for pick-up.
5. Use delivery alerts so you can be notified when a package arrives at your home. If you are not available to pick it up, ask a trusted neighbor to take your package inside for safekeeping. After all, this is a great time to get to know our neighbors.
6. Request the delivery company to hold your package at their closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up.
7. Some distributors give an option to require a signature confirmation of delivery.
8. If possible, provide delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road, such as on a back porch.
9. FedEx's tips to keep your packages safe: https://www.fedex.com/us/delivery/
10. United States Postal Service's tips to keep your packages safe: https://www.usps.com/holiday/
11. Check out UPS's My Choice option: https://www.ups.com/us/en/services/tracking/mychoice.page.