VANCOUVER -- Any grinches hoping to steal Christmas in northern B.C. this year may find themselves under arrest before they can make it back to Mount Crumpit.

The Prince George RCMP revealed Wednesday that it has been working with international retail giant Amazon and local residents on what it calls a "bait package initiative."

In 2019, the detachment has deployed more than 50 Amazon-branded packages on doorsteps and in mailboxes around the city. The packages are placed with the cooperation of residents. They contain real products, but they also contain surveillance devices that help officers track down and identify anyone who might attempt to steal them.

So far, there have been "three activations" of the bait packages, according to a release from Prince George RCMP. One of these activations led to the arrest of a 37-year-old Prince George man. The BC Prosecution Service is now considering charges against him.

"Our hope is that this initiative will lead to many more arrests of persons looking to ruin the holidays for families in our community," Mounties said in their release.

Prince George RCMP said the idea for the bait package program came from frontline officer Const. Brent Benbow, who reached out to Amazon to discuss the theft of the company's packages from doorsteps and mailboxes in Prince George.

"Amazon recognizes that package theft is an issue," Benbow said in the release. "They were very thankful we are addressing it and were excited to support us in our efforts."

While the bait package initiative aims to deter the theft of packages left for their intended owners, police also advised the public to avoid giving would-be thieves the opportunity to take such items.

Among the RCMP's tips are:

  • Shipping packages with tracking and signature-on-delivery requirements whenever possible
  • Checking community mailboxes daily and removing their contents
  • Buying shipping insurance for important parcels
  • Having items delivered to locations where someone will be available to receive them, such as an office rather than home