As residents head online to complete their holiday shopping, Chief Brian P. Levesque and the Dartmouth Police Department would like to remind everyone of several important safety tips.

A recent report indicates that online holiday shopping will rise nearly 15 percent this year, and a consumer survey indicates that a staggering 80 percent of Americans will scour Amazon for gifts this year.

"Given the continuous increase of consumers purchasing gifts online, we want to ensure that residents' packages do not end up in the wrong hands this season," Chief
Levesque said. "There are several simple solutions to help prevent theft that we encourage residents to follow."

FedEx and UPS offer services to assist customers during the holidays.

To best ensure that your packages are not stolen, the Dartmouth Police Department recommends the following tips:

• Request notifications on your deliveries, via phone or email, to monitor your packages in transit and upon delivery.
• Always require a signature on your deliveries to ensure packages are never left unattended.
• Consider sending deliveries to an alternate location where someone will be able to receive them – whether that be a workplace, a neighbor or friend’s house, or a FedEx or UPS location.
• Schedule your delivery for a specific date and time that you’re expected to be home.
• Set up a vacation hold if you plan on traveling during the holidays so gifts won’t be left on the doorstep.
• Be aware of “tailgating,” which refers to the people who follow delivery vehicles and steal the packages after they are dropped off.
• If you find your package has been stolen, call the police immediately.
• Never accept a surprise delivery where a payment is required, and never give out personal information when receiving a delivery that you purchased.
• Do not leave packages out in the open in your vehicle. Always lock your vehicle and store all the items out of sight. Bring in all items once you've arrived home -- do not leave them in your car overnight.

Additionally, the Dartmouth Police Department has set up a safe exchange zone in the lobby of the station. The area, called the DART Zone (Designated Area for Resale and Trade), is designed to facilitate a safe, secure and public meeting place for people to meet and complete online transactions on websites like Craigslist. Residents can meet in the designated area 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it is covered by security cameras.

Residents are reminded to report any suspicious person or vehicle to the Dartmouth Police Department at 508-910-1700.