Police warn of 'porch pirates' stealing holiday packages from outside homes

The thieves know packages are often delivered while we are away from home, but there are things that you can do to lessen your chance of becoming a victim.

Police in St. Paul have been able to find at least one suspect so far.

“We are seeing a spike, which we normally do this time of year with this type of theft,” said Sgt. Mike Ernster, of St. Paul PD.

In St. Paul and other parts of the metro, reports of package theft are on the rise and with the holiday shopping season in full-swing, authorities are urging consumers to be on alert.

“The overall urge for people is that they are willing to take the risk to get the reward and unfortunately that’s the sad reality,” said Ernster.

It’s a crime of opportunity and it’s become a nationwide issue, with home surveillance systems catching thieves in the act.

Just this week, St. Paul police arrested one woman who was caught red-handed.

“A female was witnessed, by a neighbor, taking a package from a neighbor’s address,” Ernster added. “Officers arrived in the area to find her nearby within the block and discovered her with a package that wasn’t hers and she was arrested for it.”

That woman is now facing a felony charge for her offense.

“It’s very tough for homeowners and community members to have the anticipation of getting this shopping taken care of and all of a sudden, it’s gone,” Ernster said. “And they have to start over and, some of the time, things can’t be replaced in time.”

St. Paul Police say the home security cameras have had a big impact in helping investigators identify suspects. With the popularity of online shopping growing, authorities suggest that consumers waiting on home deliveries consider alternatives.

“If you’re not going to be home, maybe have the package sent to a neighbor,” Ernster suggested. “IF it can’t be sent to a neighbor, maybe send it to your workplace. Send it to a local store that accepts packages and maybe has a lockbox area.”