Empty electronics boxes on the curb after Christmas attract thieves, police say

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – You’ve heard of “porch pirates” who take packages from the front of your house, but what about “curb pirates?”

Curb pirates cruise neighborhoods, looking for boxes that used to contain high-dollar gifts, like a TV.

To a thief, an empty box is like a red, flashing neon sign, advertising what’s inside the house. Crooks drive through neighborhoods and know what you have without even looking in the window.

In front of Jeanne Phillips’ house in Clearwater, we found a huge cardboard box from her new TV.

“I’m not really worried because of my Rottweiler,” said Phillips. Besides her dog, she has a plan to keep her gifts private. “I bent up all my boxes and put the labels on the inside so nobody would know. Unless they really dug” she said.

For Phillips and other residents of Clearwater, the city has placed nine big, blue bins around the city for people to bring boxes that used to contain TV’s, computers and other expensive gear. It’s part of a program called “Operation Safe Disposal.”

“If somebody is going to steal your packages before they’re opened, I’m sure the same people are kind of keeping an eye out to see what Santa did bring so they can go in and take it when it’s in the house,” said parent Kimberly Lamont.

Like Phillips, Lamont has a plan to keep thieves guessing.

“The bigger ticket items, we really cut up the cardboard and I usually put it in the bottom of the recycle receptacle other than put it down on the street like these are,” she said.

This is the sixth year, Clearwater Police and Department of Solid Waste have provided the bins for this program.

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