Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Porch pirates in Jersey City, New Jersey better watch out. Amazon has teamed up with cops there to track down the thieves using dummy packages.

Data shows that as many as 20 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. have suffered at the hands of criminals who steal packages left in front of their homes by delivery personnel.

The New Jersey city has had enough, and this week launched a sting operation using Ring video doorbells and GPS trackers inside the decoy boxes. Five arrests were made on the first day alone, with the first one coming within just a few minutes of the operation’s launch.

Amazon supplied the necessary equipment for the crime-fighting program. Police then worked with homeowners living in neighborhoods regularly targeted by porch pirates.

Each box contains an item of little value, but, critically, also has a GPS tracker hidden inside. When the package moves, the tracker alerts cops who can then decide what course of action to take. Footage from the video doorbells also helps to provide extra evidence following any arrests.

Jersey City’s mayor, Steven Fulop, told the BBC that package thefts are a frequent complaint at community meetings, with the issue becoming all the more serious during the holiday season as online shoppers increase their spending.

Mayor Fulop said the police don’t always immediately arresting the person that stole the package, explaining how in some cases they choose to hold back so they can track the movements of the thief in an effort to learn more about their wider operation, such as where they try to sell the goods that they steal.

The mayor said that in the last year, Jersey City police has received around 400 reports of package theft, but added that the actual number of thefts is far bigger as many victims try to resolve the issue with Amazon directly and don’t bother reporting the crime to the authorities.

Amazon and Jersey City officials shared data to find the locations most commonly targeted by porch pirates, and worked with residents there to set up the stings. Jersey City’s police chief, Michael Kelly, told the Associated Press that the program had undergone a legal review and had been approved by a municipal prosecutor.

Incredibly, within just 10 minutes of the operation going live on Tuesday, December 11, the first box was nabbed by a thief. Using the GPS data, cops were able to quickly arrest the perpetrator.

Worried about porch pirates? Digital Trends has some great ideas for a bunch of ways to ensure your online order is there waiting for you when you arrive home.

Deals

The Ecovacs Deebot 601 robot vacuum gets a huge 50% price cut on Amazon

Nobody likes spring cleaning season, but smart devices like robot vacuums have made cleaning easier than ever. Roomba may rule the roost, but affordable options abound, like the Ecovacs Deebot 601, now 50% off on Amazon.
Movies & TV

Prime-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Smart Home

Nest Hello vs. Ring Video Doorbell Pro: Which is better for you?

Video doorbells provide added peace of mind. You can catch porch pirates in the act, your kids throwing a party, or a prowler roaming around your driveway. We compare two video doorbells: The Nest Hello vs. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro.
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Deals

The Instant Pot gets a huge price cut at Walmart for Memorial Day

Once a clunky kitchen gadget, the Instant Pot pressure cooker is now an indispensable item for many. The multi-functional 6-in-1 Instant Pot Lux can steam, saute, slow-cook, warm, and more. Score yours now for half off at Walmart.
Deals

Beat the heat this spring and summer with an affordable air conditioner

Spring is in full swing and summer is on the way, and now is the time time to shop for some deals on air conditioning units. We rounded up a selection of the best deals on cheap air conditioners and dehumidifiers going right now.
Deals

Walmart Memorial Day sale: 4K TVs, laptops, and Apple iPads get price cuts

The Walmart Memorial Day sale has begun. With some pretty nice savings on Apple iPads, Samsung and Vizio 4K TVs, laptops, and Google Home devices, now is a great time to snag some electronics for cheap.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Walmart, Dell, and Home Depot start early

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts price of Echo Wall Clock featuring visible Alexa timer countdowns

Amazon dropped the price for the Echo Wall Clock, an extremely helpful visible countdown display for the Alexa timer. The Echo Wall Clock augments Alexa's audible timer with a visual countdown so you don't have to ask how much time is left.
Smart Home

Get your spring in full swing with 10 gadgets to clean and declutter your home

Spring cleaning is like every chore you hate to do, multiplied by 10. Luckily, technology is here to help, in some situations. These gadgets will make the tasks go a little faster. We hope.
Smart Home

The best smart home devices that work with Amazon Alexa

Ever since Amazon added the Dot, Tap, and Show to its Echo lineup, Alexa-enabled devices have exploded. Here's a guide to everything Alexa can control in your smart home, from lights to locks to appliances.
Deals

This Emerson Sensi smart thermostat is a steal with this special promo code

Smart thermostats are essential to building out your smart home, but have two things going against them: price and compatibility. Neither is an issue with the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat, which you can grab at Newegg for $40 off with a…