The Van Alstyne Police Department is allowing residents to ship their online shopping orders and packages directly to it’s headquarters this holiday season in an effort to thwart would-be package thieves.

“If you’re going to be shipping it and you want it to be safe, you can have it sent to us,” Chief Tim Barnes said. “All they need to do is put our shipping address as the destination. Otherwise they can keep their information the same. Once it’s delivered, come pick up your package with an ID that has the same name as the one on the package.”

Through Jan. 1, the department will accept packages from all carriers including The United States Postal Service, UPS and Fedex. Those who take advantage of the program are encouraged to pick up their packages promptly, as the department is limited on space.

Barnes said while Van Alstyne doesn’t see a large number of packages swiped from front porches, the frequency with which such thefts occur tends to increase during the holiday season, as more people place online orders. The Van Alstyne Police chief said he got the idea to accept packages at the department after seeing the success of “safe purchase zones” where online buyers and sellers can meet and exchange goods in person and do so under the watch of on-duty officers.

“I thought about how a lot of departments do the social media and Craigslist sales in their parking lots,” Barnes said. And then I thought, what better place to have your packages sent than to the police department?”

Barnes said while the program has already created some additional work for officers and department employees, it will go a long way in deterring thieves and even those rightful recipients who might just want to get into their gifts a little early.

“It could be an advantage for the families who have kids that get home before the parents do,” Barnes said. “That way, they aren’t jumping into their presents before they’re supposed to.”

The Van Alstyne Police Department’s headquarters is located at 242 North Preston Street and is open 24-hours a day. For additional information, call the Van Alstyne Police Department at 903-482-5251.