Deliverers: Stolen holiday packages not common

Joe Sinopoli

With the millions of packages left at the door by delivery people during the holiday season, it’s easy to assume many are stolen before the intended recipient gets home.

That assumption would be wrong.

According to United Parcel Service spokesman Mike Johl, the mega-delivery service gets very few reports of packages left unattended at homes and businesses being stolen.

“For the overwhelming majority, we don’t have any issue at all,” said Johl, who has been with UPS for 37 years. “When I was a driver, and to this day, we teach our drivers to leave the packages out of sight and out of the weather. But it does happen once in a while.”

Because drivers deliver the same route every day, they get to know their customers, and their habits and routines, pretty well, he said.

“If they don’t think it’s safe, they won’t leave it,” Johl said. “Our drivers are pretty savvy when it comes to that kind of thing.”

The Hodgkins facility sends out 2,000 trucks daily and will deliver between 35 million and 40 million packages to the western suburbs during the Christmas rush. On Dec. 20, the peak delivery for UPS, about 22 million packages will be processed, he said.

Jackie Sanchez, officer-in-charge at the La Grange post office, said she has not had any reports of stolen packages since she came on board in July.

“Carriers pretty well know if they can leave (packages) there,” Sanchez said. “They know a customer’s routine pretty well, if they are on vacation, or if they don’t get home until 8 p.m.”

During last year’s Christmas season, La Grange carriers delivered between 800 and 1,000 packages daily in La Grange, La Grange Park and La Grange Highlands, and parts of McCook and Hodgkins.

Berwyn postmaster Bill Ruona said he gets an occasional call about a missing package.

“Generally speaking, not what I call a lot,” he said.

When it does happen, the first step is to determine if the package was delivered.

“I always ask if the mailer had been contacted to verify it was mailed, then we check with our carrier if it was delivered,” he said. 

Customers are encouraged to take out insurance on packages, Ruona added, because without it, “there’s not a lot we can do.”

Up to 550 packages are delivered daily during the Christmas rush, and the Berwyn office makes deliveries on Sunday to accommodate the increase.

Meanwhile, Brookfield postmaster Linda Smith said she has received some reports of stolen packages over the last couple weeks.

“I’ve advised my carriers to leave any packages in secure locations if the customer is not there to accept it,” Smith said. “I’ve been asking them to be extra careful. It is tough. We want our customers to be happy and have a nice Christmas.”

If a carrier has doubts, Smith said they bring packages back and leave a notice to customers that a parcel is waiting for them at the post office.

All delivery services reported an upsurge in online purchases, leading to an increase in package delivery.