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Doorstep robberies Gardaí issue warning to online shoppers as thieves allegedly following delivery drivers

There has been a surge in the number of doorstep thefts involving online purchases delivered to homes where the occupant is away

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Criminal gangs are suspected to be shadowing couriers after a spate of doorstep delivery thefts nationwide.

Gardaí urged people shopping over the internet to take precautions if they are expecting the home delivery of valuable items as Ireland is set for record-breaking online spending in the run-up to Christmas.

Shoppers will spend an extra €1bn up to Christmas given savings built up over the six-month lockdown earlier this year.

One in three shoppers said their Christmas spending between October and December will involve a mix of online and in-store purchases.

However, there has been a surge in the number of thefts involving online purchases delivered to homes where the occupant is away - with items varying from pre-pack furniture to tablets and smartphones left in parcels on the doorstep.

The Garda warning was issued after thefts in Dublin, Cork and Limerick over recent weeks involving online purchases which had been home delivered by couriers - but the items had been left on doorsteps or in porches after the residents were not at home.

In one case, gardaí believe that a courier was followed by a spotter car, which noted every property at which a parcel had been left.

A second vehicle operated by another gang member then drove around and took the items from each property.

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in delivery drivers being given the option of leaving packages in specific locations if the homeowner wasn't present.

These could range from a doorstep to a porch or even an unlocked garden shed.

Gardaí have now urged homeowners to ensure secure delivery options are available for periods when they know they will not be home - including the option of delivery to a trusted neighbour.

"We would urge people to have a trusted delivery method confirmed with the online outlet or your delivery company for times when you know you may not be at home," a garda spokesperson said.

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"If you have a trusted neighbour who is around when you are not, perhaps consider having the item safely delivered to them."

Gardaí admitted they fear the scale of such robberies will increase given the sums being spent online.

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