Central Texas police department gets creative in preventing package thefts this holiday season
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The Round Rock Police Department is accepting packages on behalf of its residents in December for Operation Front Porch.
The Round Rock Police Department is accepting packages on behalf of its residents in December for Operation Front Porch.

As residents around the country buy their Christmas presents online, they traditionally have to run the risk of having packages sit on their doorsteps for hours - exposed to would-be thieves - before they can pick it up.

That's why one Central Texas police force is allowing its headquarters to be the front porch for its residents.

In December, the Round Rock Police Department kicked off "Operation Front Porch," which allows residents to send their packages to the police department for safekeeping until they can pick it up.

Police Chief Allen Banks said they were thinking of the new approach this year, since thefts tend to spike around the holidays.

RELATED: These areas are hit hardest by theft in San Antonio during the holiday season

"We're thinking outside the box about what we can do to help our community," Banks said. "It helps build trust and partnership."

The idea has not spread beyond a few small police departments around the country. When asked about the initiative, San Antonio Officer Douglas Greene said the idea was "pretty interesting," but that his department had never considered the idea.

San Antonio, like most cities across the country, sees a rise in property crime around the holidays as people leave packages on porches and newly purchased gifts in vehicles.

Greene said the department works with shopping centers across the city and urged shoppers to use caution.

In Round Rock, Banks said if police aren't bogged down with theft reports, they're free to respond to more important calls, which is the intent of the program.

"(Officers) are not having to take calls and report stolen packages this way," Banks said. "If I can keep an officer free on the street to handle priority calls, that's what I want to do. That's our goal."

The records department oversees the program. They accept the packages sent to them and notify the families that they're ready for pickup.

Families are expected to stop by the department within two days of the delivery and once they present their ID with a Round Rock address, they can take their package home.

The program has already been in effect for a week, but some residents are already taking advantage of it. Banks said the department has received one package a day on average.

"I didn't know if it was going to work or not," Banks said. "It's starting to work and we're excited about it."

In fact, Banks said police are already planning to do this next year, but starting the initiative in late November instead, in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

While the initiative is free of charge, police ask that residents donate a new toy for their charity drive, Operation Blue Santa.

Any residents with questions about the program can call 512-218-5500 for more information.

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