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Free ways to keep your packages safe from "Porch Pirates" this holiday season

You don't have to spend a lot of money to keep your holiday gifts safe this year.

MINNEAPOLIS — Those gifts you bought on Cyber Monday will be shipping and arriving on your doorsteps in just a couple of days.

And studies show more than 35% of people have had a package stolen.

So, what can you do to make sure that doesn't happen?

There are plenty of gadgets and services you can buy, including video doorbells, lock boxes, and state-of-the-art security systems.

But if you’re looking to save some money there are plenty of free options out there as well.

Security experts at PreventPackageTheft.com say a lot of online retailers will let you write in specific delivery instructions.

You can have the delivery person hide the package in a bush, behind a potted plant, in the screen door, or behind a pillar on your door step.

It's not a guarantee, but at least that way porch pirates won't see your package from the street.

Another option is to send those packages somewhere else, where someone can keep an eye on it.

Some options include sending the package to your work office, or to a trusted neighbor's house.

If you're buying from Amazon you can also try out their new lockers.

They're free, just send the packages to the nearest locker hub near you, they'll give you a code to get in and you're good to go.

But make sure you pick it up within three days or they'll send it back.

Also, if you know you're going to be home on a certain day and time, some retailers will let you delay an order so it arrives on a certain day.

And some of the carriers like FedEx, UPS and the postal service, have apps you can use to track your package so you know exactly when it will arrive.

Another trick you can use to protect your package is to require a signature.

That way the delivery person won't leave it on your doorstep.

They'll have to stop by again, or they’ll drop it off at a local drop-off site where you know it's safe.

But, what can you do if your package has already been stolen?

First, check your tracking to make sure it's not delayed.

If that says it was delivered, then check with the seller.

Some sellers like Amazon cover thefts, but others tell you to file a claim with the shipping company.

You can report an item missing online or give the company a call.

If you're still running into road-blocks some credit card companies will reimburse you, but that might require more paperwork or even a police report.

Or you can avoid all of this altogether and buy insurance the next time you buy something online.

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