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Stormy seas ahead for Prince George Porch Pirates

RCMP Const. Brent Benbow unveils the bait package program now operating in Prince George. Bill Phillips photo

We have bait cars and bait bikes, so why not bait packages?

As e-commerce has become a multi-billion industry worldwide, the number of packages left on doorsteps around the city has increased exponentially. And that means opportunity for opportunistic thieves who think nothing of making off with your Christmas package.

The Prince George RCMP report that about 100 packages have been lifted off city porches so far this year, up from about 76 last year.

That prompted Const. Brent Benbow, who admits to doing some shopping online himself, to do something about crime. He called Amazon to see what could be done. As a result, Amazon has provided the local detachment with packaging, real products, and surveillance technology for a bait program.

“We’re here to let these porch pirates, who’ve had some strong winds behind their sails lately, know that, unfortunately, there’s plenty of icebergs ahead and their ships are about to sink,” said Benbow.

The Prince George detachment is the first in Canada, and the second in North America, to partner with Amazon on the program. Like other bait programs, it involves leaving Amazon package boxes, among others, on doorsteps around the city.

“As soon as someone decides to take the package it gets activated and they’re not going to get very far,” he said. “We’re going to track them and they’re not going to have any idea we’re tracking them and they’re going to get arrested. We’re trying to let people know that their porch is not a community Christmas tree. If someone does take one of these packages their not going to be receiving a gift, the only gift they will receive is a ride to our detachment.”

He said the problem is not limited to any single area of the city.

To date, bait packages have been deployed more than 50 times at various locations in the city three activations. One of those resulted in the arrest of a 37-year old Prince George man who is now facing charges.

“This initiative is an excellent example of the proactive efforts and outside the box thinking that our officers are coming up with to fight property crime,” said Supt. Shaun Wright. “Const. Benbow has done a great job launching this project while navigating the challenges of his regular duties.”

The video below is not part of the bait program, but shows a local man stealing  package from a local residence. The man was charged with mail theft and sentenced to 180 days in jail.

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