By Lisa Meadows

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gift-giving is now easier than ever with the boom of online shopping, but it has also made the job of a package thief a lot easier, too.

“I’ve heard all the stories about, you know, packages being taken,” said Little Canada resident Franca Lipari.

No city is immune to these criminals.

“This year, we’ve had about 200 package thefts,” said St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster.

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And now these thieves are getting even trickier in doing it.

“We’ve heard talk of certain people actually following delivery trucks,” Ernster said.

With more packages being delivered to homes now a days, police have come up with a new way to catch thieves.

“We stared using GPS technology to combat the package thefts that we have been seeing around St. Paul,” Ernster said.

(credit: CBS)

It’s like a bait car for boxes. The GPS tracker is packaged to look like an Amazon gift, placed on the porch of a willing homeowner, then sits and waits.

“We would hope that people don’t know what they’re taking,” Ernster said. “If it’s an actual delivery or if it’s a box this is loaded with GPS that the police department can track and we can arrest the suspect.”

Once the GPS is on the move, officers won’t be far behind.

“You’ll be seeing an officer a short amount of time after that, and you’ll be arrested for theft,” he said.

And it’s not just a simple charge.

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“Any theft of any package is considered a felony, it doesn’t matter what’s in it,” Ernster said.

Residents are behind the idea.

“I think it’s great, they should, because maybe it will scare them off then,” Lipari said.

It’s all about using today’s technology to take down criminals.

“We’re doing this in an attempt to obviously hold people accountable that may be targeting that area for theft, and hopefully make people think twice about stealing packages,” he said.

Police say it’s also useful to have a doorbell camera, so if some does steal a package, they have video to help catch the criminal.

Lisa Meadows

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