Rush of holiday packages means more work for postal workers, police

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 21, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- The United States Postal Service spent Sunday delivering millions of packages, despite it being a day when the post office is typically closed.

“Convenience for our customers is the most important thing, so we’ve expanded our hours in December, said Scott Smith with the West Valley City branch of the United States Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal Service is now in the final push in terms of holiday deliveries. This year, they were open until 4 p.m. on Saturdays rather than their usual closing time of 2 p.m. They’ve also opened up eight different offices in the Salt Lake Valley for the final Sundays leading up to Christmas.

“Yeah, we delivered 4.6 million packages last Sunday, and we’re going to break that record this Sunday," Smith said.

Smith said the need to be open 7-days a week in December has a lot to do with the increase in online holiday shopping.

“It’s made a big difference, and it’s kept us busy," he said. "That’s why we’ve opened up Sunday parcel delivery to get them parcels out to the customer, get everything out there before Christmas. You know we want our customers to have a good Christmas."

Salt Lake City police have noticed an uptick too; they said it’s just as easy for a thief to snag your packages as it is for a mail carrier to drop them off.

“It’s a crime of opportunity; someone sees the package up front, grabs it and is gone quite quickly," said Lt. Michael Ross of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Ross said having a tracking number and keeping an eye on when your package is scheduled to arrive is a great way to eliminate the chance of your items being stolen.

"If at all possible, be there when it’s coming," Ross said. "If not, have them hold it at their office and go pick it up after work--that’s what I like to do."

Jennifer Fei, a single mother of two, has spent the year trying to get her dream business--a boutique in downtown Salt Lake City--off the ground. It’s made for a financially stressful Christmas season, but luckily she has some thoughtful friends.

“They wanted to help out, they knew that I was struggling this year and they were nice enough to say, 'Hey do your kids have a wish list on Amazon? Let’s send them a few gifts so they have some things to open,'" Fei said.

But when she got home that night, the three boxes were gone.

“It was more upsetting for me because these gifts were bought and sent out of love, and the fact that these people took the packages not thinking, it feels like a violation," Fei said.

Last year, one Holladay family caught their crooks on camera. The video shows a man and woman take eight packages worth about $5,000 in two minutes.

“Many times, we’ll have video tapes come into us that show the suspect who has taken the package," Ross said. "It gives us a much better chance of catching that criminal."

Fei went around her neighborhood, suggesting everyone keep an eye out for everyone else to reduce the risk of this happening again.

"If it happened to me, it’s going to happen to someone else down my block, so if we all just pay attention it’s very helpful," Fei said.

After reporting the theft to Amazon, the company agreed to resend some of the items. The mother of two girls is focusing on the positive and said she’s not going to let it ruin her Christmas spirit.

“It’s a special time of year, people are all trying to give to their families, and so I try not to think negatively too much," she said.

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