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Start of holiday season comes with spike in package thefts

Published: Nov. 25, 2019 at 11:53 PM CST
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Wichita police warn this time of year, they see a spike in cases involving thieves stealing delivered packages off of front porches.

FactFinder 12 looks into how often these "porch pirate" cases happen and how you can protect your property against these crimes.

Last year, Wichita resident Jennifer Thornberry was among those who thought delivered packages were safe on her porch. A thief shattered that belief, stealing about $100 worth of items, some of them irreplaceable.

"I couldn't believe it had just happened to us," Thornberry says. "I just never dreamed. I thought they were just delayed, or, you know, maybe they were in the mailbox and not the porch or vice versa. I started looking online first at my receipts where I had proof of shipment and it said they should be here."

Thornberry then checked her Ring doorbell camera and saw a woman stealing her packages. That video helped link that woman to other package thefts around Wichita.

How often do crimes like this happen? An open records request shows just for Wichita, there were 17 cases of porch package thefts in the two weeks following Black Friday last year. A map shows those 17 cases were scattered throughout the city, in all types of neighborhoods.

One home in central Wichita was hit twice in three days. Records show thieves stole everything from clothing to pet supplies, and even an air filter in those 17 total cases.

Wichita Police Sgt. Trevor McDonald says package thieves often come into quiet neighborhoods where they won't stand out and drive their cars down the street, looking to see what they might want to take.

Of the 17 post-Black Friday cases last year, only three homes had surveillance cameras. McDonald says any home surveillance can help catch the thief.

What can you do to keep thieves from targeting packages on your porch? Wichita police say you should avoid leaving them outside for long periods of time. If you're expecting a delivery, get it inside as soon as possible, and if you're not home, have a neighbor or friend pick it up for you.

You may also consider having packages delivered to your work, or use an Amazon locker or do store pickup if that's an option.

After what happened to her last year, Thornberry says she checks her Ring doorbell camera more often and tries to shop local as much as possible.

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