SOUTH ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) – ‘Tis the season for giving gifts—and for thieves snatching these parcels from your doorstep.
It’s a problem that residents in Tower Grove East say has been happening more frequently: wondering why the package they’re expecting never showed up. But neighborhood resident Joe Millitzer solved the mystery with a surveillance camera.
He says, “I put it up as a deterrent and thought I’d catch something someday, but never thought I’d catch someone stealing a package off my front porch.”
From the surveillance footage taken by the camera on his porch, you can see a UPS truck drop off a package, and then moments later, a man with a red hoodie comes up and snatches it.
Turns out, Millitzer isn’t the only victim of this kind of theft in Tower Grove East. He posted the video on the neighborhood facebook page and says he received several comments of similar instances happening to others: “People had seen packages go away, and I’ve actually seen some in the dumpster over there, ripped up and tossed away, like books and things that they don’t want.”
Police say this crime is an increasingly common one throughout the St. Louis area during the holiday season. But according to Maryland Heights Police Chief Tom O’Connor, it’s a crime notoriously tough to track, especially if the stolen goods are traded for drugs.
O’Connor explains, “In the exchange of narcotics, you can surmise that it was stolen material, but certainly the person who’s receiving it is not gonna ask those kinds of questions, because there’s a profit motive.”
But if police can use surveillance or other evidence to identify the thief, O’Connor says the charges are based upon the value of the package’s contents: “If it’s over $500 it’s a felony, and if it’s under, it’s a misdemeanor,” he says.
The thief would also face a federal offense if the stolen package was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
Still, police recommend folks take preventative measures, and Millitzer is following that advice: “That’s my plan, is basically to get my packages sent to work, and if not that, have them signed for.”
There are other ways to prevent your package from being delivered to an empty front porch. UPS has a program called UPS My Choice (http://www.ups.com/mychoice/). If you sign up for it, UPS will give you a four-hour window for delivery, by text or email, a day in advance. If those times don’t work for you, you can change the time or place of delivery.
But what if you’ve already had a package stolen? UPS recommends filing a police report and contacting your shipper to get a replacement item.
Raw Video Of Holiday Package Theft