Porch hackers can be elusive, as are statistics on how many such thefts – Orange County Register

When Ernesto Cortez’s wife took to the couple’s Whitter Porch to get an Amazon package containing Christmas presents earlier this month, she found an open box full of leftover food and Jack in the trash. Box.

From work, Cortez checked out his Ring-doorbell video:

A silver Kia Optima enters their driveway, a masked woman comes out and exchanges boxes.

“We work so hard to buy what we can, and for people to take advantage of others for their hard work sucks,” said Cortez, who works for Southern California Gas Co. “My wife is traumatized.”

He told his neighbors what happened and planned to eventually file a report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“I know that (the police are) busy,” he said. “I know these guys have bigger and better things to do, but I wanted them to try to raise awareness in the community.”

It is not clear whether the number of porch pirate robberies is increasing or decreasing this holiday season compared to last year.

Some agencies do not specifically keep track of reported package thefts – incidents are grouped into residential burglaries. And some police officials say there appear to be a lot of stolen packages they never hear about – until they scan social media.

In Riverside, there were 46 such thefts from September 1 to December 1 last year and 31 during the same period in 2021, said Officer Ryan Railsback, spokesperson for Riverside Police. . But based on the number of home surveillance videos he sees on Ring, NextDoor and Facebook, the officer is not sure there has been a drop.

“(A victim) might think this is a $ 10 or $ 20 package, so it’s not worth reporting,” Railsback said. “We want people to know why to report it – because we want to get a better picture of the problem with these statistics.”

Railsback himself had a packet with energy drink powder taken on his doorstep last year on Thanksgiving Day.

“While we were gone, a guy stopped and walked over, grabbed him and walked away,” Railsback said. “I reported it online because I know the importance of reporting it.”

Anaheim Staff Sgt. Shane Carringer also believes that many pirate crimes go unreported, possibly because people are globally “tired” of the crime.

“I still see these posts on NextDoor and Facebook about stolen packages, but where are the police reports? Carringer said. “There is a lot of frustration with certain types of decriminalization of this kind of (property crimes). “

In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, transforming petty theft – for stolen property valued at less than $ 950 – from felonies to misdemeanors.

Even if the thieves are caught, that doesn’t mean the merchandise will end up where it should.

“When people steal these packages, the first thing they do is open the package and take off with the stolen items,” Carringer said. “If we have a (suspect’s) car full of stolen goods, it might be impossible to determine who owns the goods. “

Lt. Michele Mahan of the San Bernardino Police Department said the agency has always seen incidents on social media that were not part of police reports.

“Sometimes people think the value of the stolen item is not worth taking a police report,” she said.

“Others aren’t necessarily looking for lawsuits, but they want their money back, so if they can get their money back through their bank or credit card company, then they’re happy,” the lieutenant said.

Bridgette Schauwecker of Temescal Valley had an Amazon package stolen on the front porch of her secluded home during the daytime in late November. The estate agent’s home security camera captured a woman walking towards the house and grabbing a large brown box before walking away.

Five of Schauwecker’s neighbors suffered the same fate.

“You feel so violated,” Schauwecker said. “Like what else can I do?” It’s the fear of what else these people are capable of doing.

She reported the theft to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

To thwart such thieves, the Schauwecker family will now use Amazon’s Garage Delivery service, a free option for Amazon Prime members to have packages delivered inside garages with a garage door opener. wi-fi compatible that allows Amazon delivery people with remote control – key access to the interior.

Cortez, the Whittier resident, plans to have packages delivered to Amazon lockers that are in stores and fast food outlets rather than on his front porch.

Carringer recommended coordinating with neighbors if a package needs to be delivered while you’re away from home, and investing in a properly positioned home video surveillance system.

“CCTV systems are so affordable these days that it’s good that everyone has one to capture evidence that would be useful in a lawsuit,” Carringer said. “Make sure it’s positioned correctly, though, so it doesn’t catch the top of someone’s forehead. “

Using the porch hack reports in Anaheim, police are selecting neighborhoods to plant fake deliveries – a strategy the department began a few years ago. A package equipped with GPS tracking the device is placed on a threshold. When someone picks up the bait, the GPS system “wakes up” and the patrollers are alerted.

Old-fashioned attention on Thursday helped nab two suspected pirates from the porch, arrested in Anaheim Hills after a victim grabbed the description of a vehicle.

Hours later, Anaheim Police said they found the Honda Passport in the area of ​​Lakeview and Orangethorpe avenues where two 17-year-old boys were found in possession of 15 packages belonging to five victims.

Police said the packages in this case had returned to their rightful owners.