Concerns about mail theft in Hawaii as the holidays near

HONOLULU (KHON2) – The holidays are fast approaching and experts have a warning for people expecting gifts in the mail or planning to send some soon.

KHON2 spoke to some experts about how locals can ensure their gifts end up in the right hands.

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The councilor-elect for Honolulu City Council District 6 said his mail or packages were never stolen.

“But neighbors have been telling me for many months across the community, not just in Pacific Heights but also in Nuuanu, Alewa Heights and a number of other neighborhoods, that this happens regularly,” Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said.

The Security Alarm Shop CEO said the happiest time of the year may be the busiest for camera installations.

“Yes, especially during the holiday season when package delivery rates go up so much and people know they’re gifts and stuff,” said Jim Harrow, CEO of Security Alarm Shop. “Any type of visual deterrent could work. So definitely have a mark.”

Harrow also pointed to doorbell cameras – itself a deterrent – but said to keep an eye on the notifications.

“The whole idea for it to work is there has to be a reaction. So if you get the alarm and the person is standing in front of you and you don’t answer him or her and don’t respond, that’s no use,” Harrow said.

Harrow and Dos Santos-Tam agreed that being a good neighbor and simply being alert for suspicious activity in the area was a must.

“Whether through a formal neighborhood surveillance program or just an informal text chain among neighbors down your street,” Dos Santos-Tam said.

Almost 25 percent of Americans were victims of package theft in 2021, according to the Better Business Bureau. The Hawaii marketplace manager had her own experience with outbound envelopes.

Before becoming a fraud expert, Roseann Freitas had put several gift cards in envelopes to send for a fundraiser.

“That was 20 years ago; I had a bunch of outgoing mail pinned down,” Freitas said. “Unfortunately, someone was coming and going around the neighborhood going into every mailbox and stealing their mail.”

Freitas said going to the post office is the best choice for sending mail. She also recommended in-store delivery – a great option for people worried about packages being delivered to their door.

“You can order it online and have it shipped to your store,” Freitas said. “Whether it’s a FedEx store or a UPS store, you may want to contact those stores to verify what the process for delivery and storage is there.”

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KHON2 has contacted the Honolulu Police Department to see how many reports of mail theft were captured in November 2022, but has received no response.