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Penn Police are on the lookout for package theft after an increase in reported thefts 

As the weather warms, more students are having packages stolen off their porch.

Reports of off-campus package theft have increased from zero at the end of March 2016 to 11 at the same time in 2017. One reason for this increase might be that package thefts are now following delivery trucks and waiting for opportunities to steal students' packages while they are out of their houses, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.  

The Division of Public Safety anticipates a further rise in thefts during the spring season, where warmer weather is thought to encourage this type of criminal behavior.

“What we’re seeing is individuals are following the UPS and FedEx truck around and looking for opportunities to steal the package off the porch,” Rush said. “The bottom line is don’t play Russian roulette and have merchandise delivered to your home when you’re not going to be there to sign for it.”

Wharton sophomore Andrew Zheng, who lives at the corner of 41st and Pine streets, described an incident where a package was stolen off his doorstep in December.

“I ended up getting the package back. It was pretty funny. It was an ugly Christmas sweater with a reindeer that was throwing up on it,” he said. “When I came to the police office, everybody was laughing about it. It was pretty jovial.”

The Penn Police recovered the package for Zheng, and he was subpoenaed to talk to the Assistant District Attorney about the crime. 

Due to the increase in package theft activity, DPS recently released a package theft advisory. Penn Police Captain Joe Fischer said his officers are prepared for any further increases in thefts. 

“We have a couple plain-clothed officers,” he said. “If they sat in this room with you now, you would probably think they were students.”

An option for students to avoid package thefts is to have their packages delivered to a UPS or FedEX store. But the nearest locations at 3720 Spruce St. and 3535 Market St. might be out of the way for students living at off-campus locations west of 40th street.

While Zheng’s package was recovered by Penn Police, he now has important packages delivered to either an on-campus package pick-up location or the Radian. He acknowledges the alternative locations are inconvenient, but suggested students should “just have these things in mind” given the trend of increased package thefts.

Rush agreed, emphasizing that students should take advantage of Campus Apartments' package delivery services, the Amazon@Penn service, and delivery to College houses — which is accompanied by a fee. Rush hopes to eventually eliminate the issue of package theft. 

“Let’s put them out of business by using these three options,” she said.