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Afraid your holiday packages will be stolen? You can send them to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

In order to get your packages, you must show a government-issued photo ID and an order tracking number.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — It's holiday shopping season, and you know what that means: porch pirates. 

While it's a frustrating crime, and no one wants their packages stolen, it's something we see every year. So, how to protect against it?

Well, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office wants to help.

It is announcing the launch of an operation that will allow people living in Hillsborough County to ship their holiday packages right to two of its district offices. 

"Operation Pinch-A-Grinch" began Monday and allows residents to have their online orders shipped to HCSO's District 3 Office, located at 7202 Gunn Highway in Tampa, or District 5 Office, located at 10128 Windhorst Road in Tampa. From there, a deputy will accept and keep the items safe until the rightful recipients can retrieve them. And it comes at no cost. 

"We understand that many within our community have very busy schedules, from working to taking their children to school to caring for their families,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. "That is why we are offering a wide range of convenient pick-up hours."

The sheriff's office said the holiday season brings an increase in package thefts. And, more people are having items shipped in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, there were 274 reported package thefts in Hillsborough County. Those amounted to $76,000 in losses to the people who bought them. And, not every case gets reported.

"Operation Pinch-A-Grinch" package distribution times will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Deputies at the two district offices will be available to assist people picking up their items.

In order to get your packages, you must show a government-issued photo ID and an order tracking number. All packages must be less than 50 pounds.

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