RIALTO, Calif. (KABC) -- It's the time of year when packages are delivered to homes in time for the holidays, and thieves are taking advantage of the opportunity to steal them.
"My dad had ordered three watches from Movado... and another one of the packages that was stolen was just pajamas for me and my dogs," said Al Diaz.
What had taken Diaz's dad time and money to purchase on Black Friday took mere seconds for thieves to steal right off their Rialto home's front porch.
"It is the holidays, you know. These are our gifts for our loved ones, for close friends.... Even I, to some extent, am frustrated by this," said Diaz.
It's a frustration shared by millions of Americans. According to Safewise, a home safety research company, over the past 12 months, 260 million packages worth $19.5 billion were stolen by thieves, commonly referred to as porch pirates.
"It's a low-scale, low-risk type of crime. It takes no skill to pull this off and there is not a lot of risk in doing it," said Ben Stickle, Middle Tennessee State University Associate Professor of Criminal Justice.
Stickle is an expert of the subject of package thefts. He says the best way to detour porch pirates is to limit their opportunities.
"There are a variety of ways you can protect yourself. You can ask for the packages to be delivered and placed behind a planter or something you have on your front porch, you can deliver to a neighbor, you can have them deliver to a drop-off location at a store, or a parcel locker," he said.
The Diaz family did capture the culprits on their home security camera, which even alerted the theft to the camera, but even that wasn't enough to stop the crime from happening.
"Within ten minutes, it was gone - before we could even react," said Diaz.
Stickle says his research has shown home security cameras are not the crime fighting tool homeowners hope to rely on to prevent porch theft.
"In my research I've done, people would look at a camera, take the package and walk away. Most people didn't even try and disguise themselves," he said.
The Diaz family reported the thefts to the Rialto Police Department, which said doing so is helpful in identifying troublesome areas.
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