NEW ORLEANS -- The holidays are right around the corner, and as people start getting in the spirit of gift giving, police are encouraging residents to be extra vigilant when it comes to receiving packages.

Mainly, because they don't want residents to fall victim to porch pirates.

It can happen in the blink of an eye.

"It's a crime of opportunity," said NOPD Public Information Officer Juan Barnes.

Packages left on your doorstep but taken by someone else.

"I mean an individual sees something, it's right there, they see it and it can be like taking candy from a baby," said Barnes. "It's sitting right there; nobody is protecting it."

Local dance teacher, Jessica Perilloux, recently experienced this first-hand.

"My newborn was sleeping so I saw at least four packages be delivered," she said. "The doorbell rang, dog barked and I thought I'm not going to open the door because I don't want to wake up the baby more."

About ten minutes later, the boxes were gone.

"It was close to $500 worth of things that aren't everyday goods," she said. "These are dance specific items a regular thief isn't going to use."

New Orleans Police said cases like this happen all year, but now is the time when residents need to be extra careful.

"More packages are delivered during the holidays so it does increase the number of packages that are left on front doors so it possibly could increase the number of thefts also," said Barnes.

To help protect yourself, police said to have someone sign for your packages. If you want it delivered to your house, have a plan.

"Give them specific instructions on where to place that package," Barnes said. "Putting it on the front porch in plain view is not a good idea."

While Perilloux was able to get the items replaced, she's being extra cautious and encourages others to do the same.

"I've learned that thieves are sneaky," she said. "We're putting in extra measures to make sure that we can be safe because with a lot of kids in the area I just don't want to take any chances."

Officers also said another option is to have your packages delivered to the workplace or to even have it delivered to the store it came, that way you can go and pick it up there whenever you have a free moment.