By LINDA CHION KENNEY
To stymie would-be “porch pirates” during this season of holiday gift-giving and doorstep delivery, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office returns again with “Operation Pinch-a-Grinch.”
“Online shopping is easy, but don’t make it easy for these porch pirates this holiday season by leaving unattended packages outside of your home,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said, in promoting the crime prevention effort.
Starting Nov. 8 and running through Dec. 21, Operation Pinch-a-Grinch welcomes gift-givers to ship their packages directly to one of two Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office districts.
Participating this year are the District V office in Tampa, at 10128 Windhorst Road and the District II office in Tampa, at 7202 Gunn Highway.
At both locations and at no cost, deputies will accept and safeguard packages intended for Hillsborough County residents and shipped from Amazon, FedEx, UPS and USPS. Eligible packages are 50 pounds or less
In turn, pickup hours at both district offices run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Residents must bring a government-issued identification card and a delivery tracking number to retrieve their packages.
The effort to protect gifts from thieves comes as the 36th annual Deloitte report on holiday shopping trends hit the news.
This year’s report, by the Deloitte Consumer Industry Center, the research division of Deloitte LLP’s Consumer and Industrial Products practices, is based on a survey of 4,315 consumers and 30 retail executives.
According to the report, spending gains are expected, largely driven by high-income groups, and that “some pandemic behaviors are sticking, with 62 percent of spending expecting to occur online, while a decrease in anxiety levels motivates some to return to stores.”
Overall, “digital adoption is now a holiday habit,” the report concludes, even as “in-store shopping regains some lost ground.”
Moreover, “consumers continue to seek out conveniences, with 73 percent choosing standard delivery,” the report finds. Meanwhile, curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) exceeds pre-pandemic levels.
Report findings address as well emerging trends concerning supply chains (“delivery time is frightful’) and inflation (“it’s beginning to look a lot like markups”).
“Getting a great deal is a top driver for 60 percent of consumers, but bargains may be hard to find, with five in 10 retail executives expecting prices to increase this holiday season,” the Deloitte report notes. “Almost seven in 10 consumers hold the same expectation.”
Whatever they spend and however they shop, one thing is certain. Family and friends will be sending and receiving gifts that wind up on doorsteps, which, according to law enforcement officials, warrants the return of “Operation Pinch-a-Grinch.”
“We all have busy work schedules these days,” Sheriff Chronister said, “so let us take care of your packages so you can take care of work, school or whatever else the day brings you.”