MINNEAPOLIS -- Hilary Smith opened the front door of her St. Paul home and expected to find a package.
Instead, she found a neatly folded handwritten note on the steps right where the Amazon package had been delivered a few hours earlier.
"So just a quick little thank you for leaving me the opportunity of stealing your package," the note read. "Very nice of you. Thank you, the new owner of your package."
Dumbfounded, she thought a neighbor had played a joke. But no, the box holding a phone charger -- a gift for her boss -- was gone, another example of thieves taking advantage of the avalanche of online holiday orders. More deliveries left at homes unattended means more opportunities for thieves playing the part of the Grinch.
"It's creepy and I'm mad," Smith said Friday, a day after her package was swiped. "It's brazen and arrogant."
St. Paul police have taken 94 reports of stolen packages since Oct. 1, but the numbers are likely much higher since thefts are not always reported, said police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster.
The problem isn't confined to one city, of course. In Hopkins, police Monday had three reports of packages stolen on the same block around the same time. Sgt. Mike Glassberg said thieves often follow delivery trucks and hit several houses in the same area.
With the convenience and prevalence of online shopping, "it has become a big opportunity for thefts," Glassberg said.
Nationwide, 11 million homeowners have had a package stolen in the past year, according a study from research firm Edelman Intelligence. The firm found that 74% of packages are stolen from homes during the day when homeowners are at work. The average value of the stolen packages? About $50 to $100.
Until this week, Smith had never had a package stolen -- maybe, she said, because she usually has packages sent to a secure address.