Police stepping up patrols, using new methods to catch ‘porch pirates’

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – City police say there have been nearly 10 reports of packages stolen from porches and doorsteps in just the last month.

The most notable incident was caught on camera.

Police said Jose Colon-Rodriguez was caught on surveillance video as he took a package from a home on West James Street. The video shows it took Colon-Rodriguez less than 10 seconds to swipe the package and ride away on his bike.

“I was a bit surprised,” said Barry Winterstein, who lives on West James Street.

Police Lt. Bill Hickey called the thefts a crime of opportunity and said they now happen year-round. He said police are stepping up their patrols to catch the so-called “porch pirates”.

“We track and map crime trends and that’s how we try to focus our patrol efforts, based on the data we get,” he said.

In some parts of the country, police are planting bait packages with GPS tracking devices to catch the criminals.

“I think it would probably be a good idea,” Hickey said.

Hickey said folks should consider investing in a surveillance camera to keep their homes safe.

“With the video we got from the house on West James Street, the video was very clear for a private surveillance system,” he said. “It showed the guy coming up on the bike, getting off, taking the package, riding away. That really helped us narrow down and actually linked that person to other thefts.”

Hickey advised people to send packages to their work to keep them safe.

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