By Brad Stager
The supply chain from online retailers to consumers usually culminates with a timely delivery to someone’s front door. If things go well, the intended recipients of goods, from Apple tech to zucchini bread, will take possession of their packages before criminals have a chance to steal them in acts of porch piracy.
Expensive gifts purchased online for home delivery during the Christmas holiday shopping season are especially vulnerable as thieves keep an eye out for unattended deliveries. That’s why the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is offering a free way to ensure safe and secure delivery of online purchases for the second consecutive year with Operation Pinch-A-Grinch.
Online purchases can be shipped to two HCSO district offices for safekeeping and pickup from November 8 through Tuesday, December 21, but there will be no package pick-up on Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 25 or Black Friday on November 26. No packages will be accepted after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 21.
Packages will be accepted on behalf of Hillsborough County residents only from the following online retailers: Amazon, FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service. Packages cannot weigh more than 50 pounds.
Residents in the Osprey Observer distribution area can have their packages delivered to the District V office located about 1.5 miles north of Brandon Boulevard. HCSO requires packages be addressed to the recipient in care of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The address for the District V office is 10128 Windhorst Rd. in Tampa.
The HCSO District III office in Northwestern Hillsborough County is also participating in Operation Pinch-A-Grinch.
Recipients must show a valid, government-issued, photographic identification card and order receipt, or proof of package shipment showing tracking information. For child addressees, parents must provide proof of guardianship or child identification.
According to Sheriff Chad Chronister, Operation Pinch-A-Grinch proved its value when it was implemented in 2020.
“Operation Pinch-A-Grinch, which originally launched in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, safeguarded more than $10,000 worth of purchases,” said Chronister, who contrasts that with documented thefts.
“Last year, we had more than 200 reports of package thefts in Hillsborough County, which amounted to more than $130,000 in total losses.”
Pickups can be made from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You can find out more about Operation Pinch-A-Grinch at teamhcso.com.