SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – ‘Tis the season to begin shopping for holiday gifts; however, if you plan to shop online this year, experts urge caution.

A recent survey from SafeWise estimates that porch pirates — those who steal packages from homes’ front porches — have stolen 260 million packages in the last 12 months, a total eclipsing $19 billion in value.

Even though data from the Spartanburg Police Department shows porch piracy is still somewhat rare in city limits, it is not unheard of. Below are the years and the total number of package thefts reported to Spartanburg police.

YearCount
20186
20199
202016
202112
202220
Total63

“We have people out there who follow the delivery trucks,” SPD Major Art Littlejohn said.

Experts advise opting in to delivery alerts, requiring a signature at delivery, keeping porches well lit and using security cameras to prevent theft. Other options include buying lockboxes for front porches for drop-offs, using pick-up boxes at public locations, or asking neighbors for help retrieving packages.

Amazon told 7News about several tools for tracking packages, including estimated delivery windows, map tracking, photo-on-delivery confirmation and the ability to share tracking information with family or friends.

The retailer also offers in-garage delivery for some customers. The company also offers pick-up locations at 7-Eleven, Staples, Rite-Aid, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Chevron, Circle K, Ross and more.