Independence Police say they've received recent reports of a string of residential mailbox thefts with outgoing mail.

Given the season, such thefts from unlocked boxes have included Christmas cards, along with some gifts possibly in those cards.

To prevent mail theft, police advise residents to instead take outgoing mail to the local post office or drop it in a blue U.S. Postal Service collection box. For incoming mail, police urge people to pick up promptly after delivery or at least not leave it overnight. If one expects to be receiving something financial or valuable, perhaps ask trusted a friend or neighbor to pick up that mail.

Further steps include getting a post office box or locked mailbox to receive mail, sign up through USPS for informed delivery so one knows when to expect mail daily and exchange work and vacation schedules with trusted neighbors to watch each other's mailboxes (and homes).

If your mail is stolen, police urge people to report it immediately to your nearest Postal Inspection Service office and to the Independence Police Department at (816) 325-7300.

Blue Springs Police crime analyst Jennifer Dachenhausen said her department hasn't seen a similar string of mailbox thefts, but not surprisingly there's been an uptick in packages swiped from front porches.

“Our big problem is package theft, porch pirates,” she said.

Dachenhausen said police are investigating one string of midday thefts on a cul-de-sac, captured in part on home cameras. The video shows two men lugging a pair of full trash bags into a car.

To ward off porch pirates, police advise people to sign up for delivery alerts, require a signature if possible, arrange for post office pick-up, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up and keep a package temporarily, or have a package delivered to a workplace.

Surveillance cameras can always be theft deterrent. In addition to simply providing a possible ID on a thief, various types of security cameras at your front door could have a motion-sensitive siren or can allow homeowners to remotely view their front porch and set off the alarm if necessary. Many times throughout the year, area police have been able to share front-porch camera video footage on social media to help attempt to ID the thief.