‘Porch pirates’ make off with packages at the holiday

Global Business

It’s become a major problem, particularly around the holidays and especially in the U.S. – the theft of packages from outside people’s homes.

One report found that so-called “porch pirates” stole packages from almost 26 million Americans in 2017 alone. And one estimate puts losses due to package theft at more than $1 billion a year.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrand reports.

Lorenzo Ors of Denver recently ordered a trash can online. Then one morning, while at work, he was notified the package had been delivered to his house.

“So I left the office around 11:15,” Ors said. “And then at 11:19, I checked the camera and the package is gone. And then I go back and see somebody took it.”

A surveillance camera hidden inside Ors’ doorbell recorded the thief in action.

“He had some paper on him and I think he was trying to pretend he was picking up something,” Ors said. “He looked at the box and took it, and just took off. I mean it was a matter of seconds.”

Ors, who said he felt violated, had just been victimized by a “porch pirate.”

“They just kind of drive through neighborhoods, looking for packages and play package roulette I guess you’d call it,” said John Bradley with the Brighton, Colorado Police Department. He added that with more and more people shopping online, particularly around the holidays, package theft has become increasingly common.

“There certainly has been an uptick nationally in that kind of event,” Bradley said.

The thieves are brazen. Some appear to have parcel pilfering down to a science. This type of crime, while not new, has become more high-profile because of video. In the past few years, homeowners have installed smart doorbells and security cameras which record porch activity they can review later on. Now Brighton police have asked residents to register their cameras as potential future crime-fighting tools.

“Now, rather than having to knock on the door and say did you happen to be home when this happened, we say did you happen to have a video system?” Bradley said. “A camera doesn’t forget. A camera doesn’t misremember anything. If the camera shows a white or light-colored car, we’re pretty sure it was a white or light-colored car.”

Requiring a signature for deliveries, having packages sent to your workplace and lock-box delivery services are other anti-theft strategies. One engineer has become a YouTube sensation with his home-made, high-tech package trap which covers thieves in glitter and smelly spray.

“I’d be very concerned about that just because of the potential to have somebody injured, to have an unmonitored device like that,” Bradley cautioned.

Ors has been struck by porch pirates twice before. Both suspects were caught.

“They tried to return product at one of the stores using the receipt out of the box,” Ors said.

The latest suspect is still at large but, with the help of his video, Ors got the retailer to replace his stolen trash can, hassle-free. Merry Christmas.