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Crime prevention experts warn of 'porch pirates' ahead of the holiday shipping season

According to a survey by C+R Research, 43% of respondents reported having a package stolen in 2020, which is up from 36% in 2019.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One Charlotte homeowner is warning others after packages were stolen from his front porch in the middle of the day.

Josh Brewer shared video of the incident with WCNC Charlotte, which was recorded by his doorbell camera.

"Eating some leftover spaghetti, got a reminder that an Amazon package had delivered, which made me go check the porch,” Brewer said. "Realized it wasn't there, so then I check the Ring camera and then poof."

The video shows a woman dressed in all black clothing running up to his porch in the Biddleville area around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. In the video, the woman grabs several packages on Brewer’s front porch, which were hidden behind a column, and runs back to a white car that quickly drives off.

 "I mean clearly can see her face,” Brewer said. “You can see her car and just no regard. It's crazy to me."

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Brewer said he wanted to share the incident in hopes of making a dent in the package theft problem.

"If we start catching enough of them, maybe people will stop doing it,” Brewer said.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told WCNC Charlotte it is aware of these types of incidents, and officers are looking out for them on their neighborhood patrols. A spokesperson for the department said package thefts tend to increase as the number of packages being delivered increases, which tends to happen around the holiday season.

According to a survey by C+R Research, 43% of respondents reported having a package stolen in 2020, which is up from 36% in 2019, and almost two-thirds said they’ve been a victim of package theft more than once.

"It's become a real issue,” Rania Mankarious, CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, said. “And you think about it, most of us are now, especially the last year or so, doing online shopping or having things delivered to our home and we're selecting contactless delivery."

Mankarious said the uptick in packages being delivered combined with financial stress being an issue creates a perfect recipe for this type of crime where people go from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for packages left on porches.

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Some “porch pirates” are even getting creative with their disguises.

“We’ve seen porch pirates dress like they’re an Amazon driver,” Mankarious said. “They’re very nonchalant. They go grab it. They throw it in the back of their truck, and they really do try to play the part.”

Experts WCNC Charlotte spoke with recommend consumers have a shipping plan and determine who will be able to receive a package if it’s shipped to a home address. Customers should provide delivery carriers with specific delivery instructions about where to place a package. 

Some other tips: consider getting a doorbell camera or video security system just in case. Look into getting a package lock box as well. And finally, team up with your neighbors; look out for each other and work with them to keep an eye out for packages if you have to travel.

"We're trying to get stuff purchased earlier than we normally do, so it's going to be a community effort,” Mankarious said, “and we're encouraging communities to come together to keep each other safe, like we do every year, no matter what the topic, but especially given this because it is a burden on consumers."

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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