Police warn last-minute holiday shoppers to be wary of porch pirates

porch pirate steals box
Courtesy: Provided

MADISON, Wis. — The season of giving truly is the season of taking for porch pirates.

As shoppers rush to order last-minute gifts ahead of the holidays, thieves are taking advantage and snatching up packages.

“It takes seconds. They’re just walking in the neighborhood, see an opportunity, immediately run up and grab it and go,” Madison Police Department spokesperson Stephanie Fryer said.

One Madison resident told News 3 Now they were victimized three times. Doorbell camera video they provided appears to show the same thief each time.

Police have been able to identify some chronic offenders, thanks in part to surveillance video from residents. Without that evidence, the cases can be tough to crack.

“By watching that video, our officers and our burglary unit were able to identify a suspect and ultimately begin the process of looking for that person,” Fryer said.

Video evidence can help catch suspects but it doesn’t guarantee victims will get their items back, and it doesn’t prevent the crime to begin with.

Police recommend monitoring packages’ arrivals and asking neighbors to hold onto them or leaving specific delivery instructions for the shipper.

“You can sometimes leave instructions with these companies,” Fryer said. “‘Please leave the package behind the bush out front.’ Or, ‘Behind the large, blue planter.’ And that, again, just kind of doesn’t have that package right out in the open.”

For those who fall victim to porch pirates, MPD has a self-report form on its website.