These days, many of us opt for online holiday shopping as opposed to battling the crowds at the malls and big box stores. With offers of free shipping and great sales, it's more enticing than ever to shop from the comfort of your home. But be careful when you decide where and how to have those goodies shipped.

There are any number of urban legend scare stories that come around this time of year. It's usually someone who's Aunt Bessie's best friend's hairdresser had it happen to her babysitter, but this is something that happened to a direct friend of mine... 

My college friend Amanda recently ordered a few things online and had them delivered to her home. The packages were apparently dropped off on the porch by the delivery person, but she arrived home to two opened and emptied boxes out by the mailbox. Funny enough, one was mouse traps that her husband had ordered for a pest problem, but the other was their anxiously awaited wedding album (what a thief would do with someone else's wedding album, I have no idea). 

They of course called the local police who came out and took a report. She tells me that the officer told her that they have had a number of instances of thieves following delivery trucks and pilfering packages after the driver has dropped off and left. Some local police departments have even put out public warnings

My favorite part of this story - instead just feeling sorry for themselves and stewing, Amanda's husband decided to bait the thieves. Here's his description: 

Seems that some people want to come onto my property and steal our packages. Ok scumbags! They must think this is a game. Well if they want to play games I can play games too. They have inadvertently stumbled onto a lunatic's property and crossed the line. I have left some very special "Fresh Baked" gifts for our new friends courtesy of our Huskies, Keya and Karli, disguised as a package. I started the week setting traps for the mice in my shed and now the bait has been set for some Christmas rats. I hope these guys like boxes full of (poop)!

He picked a generic box, taped a hastily printed "Samsung" logo on the outside, and set the trap. Here's a picture of the outside and the note awaiting the thieves on the inside (thank you, by the way for not including a picture of the actual contents!)

And the best part...he follows up that the package was gone within two hours. Someone got quite the Christmas surprise!

The moral of the story - be careful with your holiday deliveries. If you don't have anywhere secure for a driver to leave a package, have the shipper require a signature, consider having it shipped to your office if your employers don't have a problem with that, or make friends with neighbors and leave a note asking the driver to leave the package with your friends if you're not home.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you deal with it? Tell us in the comments section!