The holidays are here, but for some unlucky residents of the Gardiner area, the season’s greetings haven’t all been cheery.

Last Friday, three homeowners in Gardiner and one home in Randolph reported to police that packages delivered during the day were stolen, according to complaints filed with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is the season of package theft basically,” said Chief James Toman of the Gardiner Police Department. “Occasionally we have mail thefts and package thefts reported throughout the year, but where you see the uptick is around Christmas time.”

Given the rash of apparent thefts last week, Toman is advising area residents to be more vigilant about protecting items that they’ve ordered or that have been mailed to them by an acquaintance. In a post on his department’s Facebook page Friday, Toman directed them to a security website with 10 recommendations for keeping packages safe.

The site advises, for example, having packages delivered to secure locations using special services offered by the United State Postal Service, United Parcel Service and FedEx, then retrieving the packages from those locations.

The site also recommends leaving special delivery instructions with the carrier, having senders request a signature before a package can be delivered and having the package sent to a workplace or a neighbor’s home.

For the more proactive, the site suggests setting up a security camera at the location where packages are left or, short of that, posting a sign that warns of a surveillance system — as even that can deter theft.

“Nothing is 100 percent fool proof, but take some extra precautions, because unfortunately there are opportunistic people out there who will steal it if the opportunity arises,” Toman said. “We don’t want our citizens to be victims, or anyone for that matter.”

Police have received several leads about the recently reported thefts, Toman said, but he said that it can be hard to investigate such crimes if there isn’t photographic evidence or a neighbor who saw them occur.

Toman also encouraged area residents to contact police if they see someone who appears suspicious approaching an empty home and clearly isn’t delivering mail or another service.

“Take a few extra precautions,” Toman said. “There are people out there that will steal. If you can take a few precautions to prevent that, you’re doing what you can.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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