DESOTO CO., Miss. - Porch pirate caught-on-camera, so why did police say it’s unlikely he’ll be charged?
In the digital age, things are more convenient than ever. Packages can be delivered to your doorstep in a matter of hours, but with that convenience comes porch pirates.
You can imagine a Southaven couple's frustration when a package was stolen off their porch in broad daylight.
"It felt violating, but I think it was more disheartening and disappointing,” said Scottie Watson.
A few days ago, a package was stolen from her porch while she was at work. The brazen thief walked up to her porch, shook the package, and walked away with it, all while cameras were rolling.
"It's pretty obvious we have a camera, it's very obvious we have a security system, it's very obvious we have a security system… That's what these people do. They ride through the neighborhoods, and they look for packages. They may do multiple stops throughout your neighborhood, then go back to wherever it is they live."
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Mark Little is deputy chief of police at Southaven PD. Officers that took Watson's police report told her it's unlikely they'll be able to catch the crook. I asked him why that is.
"Unless an eyewitness sees them and calls us immediately, then they're out of the area. In four or five minutes, you can be on Goodman Road heading towards Hernando. You could be across the line up in Memphis,” Little explained.
Little also said tracking down the stolen merchandise is just as unlikely.
"When you're buying something new, let's say it's a cell phone or a video recorder; you haven't received that yet, so you don't know the serial number. The businesses don't always know the serial numbers. In any theft, if you have anything stolen from you, and you have the make, model, and serial number, our detectives can check it online and see if it's been pawned recently."
And most packages won't even have a serial number.
"What we had stolen was not very expensive. It's not a huge loss. The company we ordered it from is going to replace the package, but it's the principle of the thing,” Watson said, shaking her head.
“If you have them, there's always a good chance it's going to be helpful,” said Little when asked if cameras are still useful.
Little said the security cameras haven't helped much in the Watson's case, but that's only because they didn't know the package was missing until much later.
He said if you think a package may have been stolen, report it to police and get them the video ASAP.
When it comes to protecting your packages, he said to ask a trusted neighbor to take packages inside for you, consider having them delivered to a work address, or have them delivered to the post office.
We also reached out to USPS for tips. They gave us five ways to protect mail and packages:
- Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Just as wallets and purses shouldn’t be left on the front seat of an unlocked car overnight, mail and packages shouldn’t be left uncollected in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.
- Going out of town? Hold mail at a local Post Office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the customer’s local Post Office until they return.
- Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping a package, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipient can collect the packages at their local Post Office. For customers receiving packages, they can redirect incoming packages to their local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.
- Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and the customer won’t be home to receive it, the customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit usps.com, enter the tracking number and select Delivery Instructions.
- Secure the shipment using USPS Special Services. Signature Confirmation helps ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery. For the most valuable packages, customers can opt for Registered Mail service. Registered Mail receives special handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.
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