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How to catch a holiday packages thief (+video)

To catch a thief, one Utah community leaves fake packages on doorsteps.

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    In this Nov. 26, 2012 file photo, Nicholas Lerma gets packages ready for shipping at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center in Phoenix.
    (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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A man in one Utah community says his neighbors have begun placing decoy packages on front porches in an effort to thwart holiday delivery thieves.

Rocks, old clothes and junk televisions are among items that resident Kroger Menzer says residents in the Daybreak neighborhood of South Jordan have been putting in shipping boxes. People are also using surveillance video.

"The goal isn't to catch them in the act, that's for the police," Menzer told KSL-TV. "The goal is to make it confusing and frustrating. So they come and steal a box, and they get home and it's a bunch of rocks, there's a good chance that they're probably not going to come back to steal another box."

Menzer said one of his neighbors came up with the idea and posted it to the Daybreak community Facebook page.

"This is a very tight-knit community," said Menzer, a real estate agent. "Even though there are 4,000 homes and 15,000 people living here, we all get to know each other pretty well."

Lt. John Barker, of the Unified Police Department, said it can take just seconds for a thief to jump out of a car, grab a package and run.

He said police don't want residents putting themselves in danger by confronting thieves. They recommend using surveillance video instead.

"If it's a good system, they can get some very good pictures," Barker said. "If you can get the car, and especially the license plate, that's very helpful in tracking these individuals down."

Barker also recommended picking up packages at delivery service locations.

A report from insuranceQuotes.com released last week finds that an estimated 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their homes. That number, the site warned, is only expected to increase as more Americans purchase goods online rather the traditional brick and mortar store, reports NBC News.

Like those in Utah, police in Rancho Cordova, Calif., recently began a program to catch the "porch pirates.". Dressed in street clothes and driving unmarked cars, officers deliver packages filled with fake electronics and GPS devices to homes across the Sacramento suburb. The program has thus far not produced any arrests but officials say they believe the decoy packages may help deter future robberies, Deputy Matthew Deaux told NBC News.

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