Kern County Sheriff has tips to avoid scams, porch pirates and mail thefts

Kern County Sheriff's Crime Prevention Specialist Kristi Gibbard issued some advice on ow to avoid becoming a crime victim over the holidays:
1. Consider going to direct deposit and online bill pay for anything that contains personal information. Keep track and know when to expect bills or checks which allows you to contact the issuing agency if it doesn’t arrive.
2. Don't send cash in the mail.
3. Deposit mail in a mail slot in the post office, at a Postal Service mailbox, or hand it to your letter carrier.
4. Don't leave outgoing mail unattended in your mailbox for pick up. Do not use the mailbox flag.
5. Pick up mail promptly. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you are expecting checks, credit cards or other valuable items, ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
6. If you change your address, tell the Post Office and anyone else you do business with by mail. If you are going out of town, tell the Post Office and they can hold your mail until you return.
7. Keep your mailbox in good repair and make sure it's properly installed.
8. Consider getting a locking mailbox. Ask your local postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes.
9. USPS has Informed Delivery, which allows users to interact with their incoming mail and packages in one convenient online location. Users receive email notifications containing greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mail pieces.
Gibbard also warned that package thefts often increase between the months of October and January. Some package thieves follow delivery trucks and then take the packages after the delivery is made. Others are crimes of opportunity, when thieves see packages in plain view of the street. Steps you can take:
1. Track your shipment online.
2. Choose a shipping option that requires you to sign for delivery.
3. Choose ship to store option when available.
4. Arrange to ship the package to another location for someone else to receive. This can be a friend, relative, trusted neighborhood or landlord/apartment leasing office. This can also be your place of work. Many local "mailbox" businesses may agree to accept shipment of your item for a small fee.
5. Ask the delivery service to hold the package for customer pick-up at their facility.
6. A more expensive option is to buy a locking bin. This should be bolted down so the bin cannot be removed. You can then give the key code to the delivery company.
General Tips:
1. Invest in a security camera. With a good quality HD camera that has night vision, surveillance can help us prevent theft or capture needed images of the theft occurring and the suspect. Place cameras in an area facing the mailbox, ideally insuring you can see a clear physical description and license plate.
2. Investing time in a Neighborhood Watch program is well worth the cost that crimes impose on that neighborhood. Utilizing the people around you like the stay at home parent, the early risers and the night owls, helps deter criminals from bothering you’re your neighborhood. The old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
Listen to local officials: If you would like further information about programs, or are interested in other crime prevention topics, please contact the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit at 391-7559 or by email at. Crimeprevention@kernsheriff.org