Bay Area startups work to stop package thefts

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 'Tis the season for online shopping. But if you're not home when the goods are delivered, those purchases could become an early holiday offering for thieves. Bay Area startups are trying to solve the growing problem of package thefts.

"They're looking for packages that are left on a doorstep, left in plain view, things that they can easily get out their car in a split second grab and leave," said Palo Alto Police Department Sgt. Brian Philip.

The rise of online shopping gave birth to a new industry for thieves -- stealing the stuff you bought while it's still brand new in the packaging.

"Just through some of our investigations we've determined a lot of the stuff gets resold online," Philip said.

Police in Palo Alto are using social media to get the word out to stop these grinches from stealing your Christmas.

"Have your product shipped to maybe a UPS store or a FedEx store," said Philip. "Or different locations where there are actually personnel to receive your package."

It's advice that's given birth to an industry over the past year. Local startup Swapbox lets you send packages to secure lockers so you can pick them up when you want.

In the meantime, Amazon is continuing to expand its locker service.

And the latest entry is a startup in San Francisco called Doorman.

"We are bringing the packages to the customer when they want it," said Doorman Operations Director Shaun Baker. "It's a hand to hand delivery."

Doorman lets you ship things to their warehouse.

Instead of sitting at your door, the package is scanned, sorted, and set on a shelf until you request a delivery in the evening.

That means no more of those infuriating stickers and less opportunity for thieves.

"We're solving a last mile delivery problem that has existed since the dawn of the Internet," Baker said.

Doorman is getting more popular. Growing 25 percent month over month they say. In fact, by the time the holidays are over, they probably they'll have outgrown this warehouse and need to move into a bigger one.

"Most of our growth has been through word of mouth," said Baker.

Now, they're working with online merchants to make Doorman an option at checkout.

"We get a lot of different wine," Baker said. "And wine is something that has immense theft in San Francisco."

At $4 a package, Doorman has just launched in New York and Chicago.

It could expand to the East Bay and the Peninsula next year.
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