Porch Pirates” – thieves stealing packages left at doorsteps. The police are experimenting with new methods to catch these brazen criminals. Reports suggest that at least twenty-three million Americans have been victims of porch pirates.
With the help of technology and by doing their own deliveries, the police leave bait packages with GPS trackers hidden inside which are used to track and arrest the thieves.
Terry Bohlan from Campbell, California, caught a man on one of his security cameras coming up to his porch and running off with his delivery. “It’s one of those things in life you just don’t want you to go through,” said Bohlan.
The incident motivated Bohlan to team up with his local police department. The police now use his porch to drop off bait packages hoping to lure in criminals.
The police hide a GPS tracking device inside a regular shipping box. The box also contains a common delivery item. The details about the GPS tracking device were not disclosed so that criminals don’t know what to keep an eye out for.
“We found that a lot of times these thieves are opening up the boxes before they even leave to make sure it’s something that they want,” said Captain Gary Berg. Thieves can be picky too.
This trap has worked successfully in a number of cities around the country. In Southern California, police in Arcadia shared that over a hundred thieves had fallen for the bait packages.
There were some concerns raised after a stolen bait package led to a high-speed chase and the police swarmed a movie theater to arrest the thief.
Some people believe that these operations should be regulated by court order or warrants, but experts agree that the operations are legal.
Another concern was that departments intentionally putting high-priced items in the bait packages to lead to felony convictions. “Bumping up the value of what’s in the boxes could raise some concerns from the point of view of fairness and due process,” said University of Maryland School of Law professor, David Gray.
“This is about us identifying a trend that’s happening, not only in Campbell but throughout the country, and it’s really a way for us to work with our community,” responded Captain Berg.
Homeowners agree with this sentiment. “I am all for the program. You should feel safe and comfortable, not only in your home, but in your neighborhood,” said Bohlan.
The police suggest having packages sent to locations where people can accept them in person, like a workplace or a neighbor’s house. They also recommend installing surveillance cameras like ring security cameras in doorbells, to deter thieves altogether.