Wentzville ‘porch pirates’ in custody

WENTZVILLE, Mo. - Wentzville police break up a teenage theft ring.

A surveillance camera caught two of the suspects stealing packages from Lew Lucarelli’s front porch in the Stone Meadows neighborhood, Wednesday afternoon.
Police credit neighbors with cracking the case. They say Stone Meadows is a very vigilant neighborhood.

Lucarelli's doorbell camera caught two teenage boys on a front porch shopping spree, looking over packages delivered there, picking out two of them and taking off.

He shared the video on the neighborhood Facebook page and noticed a now familiar face walking up to his house with the two packages, Thursday morning.

“I got my stuff back. Boxes were opened but not the contents – the boxes inside the boxes. They were Christmas presents,” Lucarelli said.

“The actual individual who took the packages saw himself on social media, so this morning he went to return the package,” said Wentzville Police Chief, Kurt Frisz. “Another neighbor saw him going up on the porch and called the police. Our officers get there and take him into custody.”

Tis the season for home delivery.

Three Wentzville teens ages 14-to-15 are behind 4 to 5 porch thefts plus car break-ins and open-door garage thefts in recent months, police said. All three are Timberland High School students who’ve been selling the stolen items for quick cash, police said.

“One box was full of duct tape,” Frisz said. “It’s kind of hit and miss. It’s a box you never know what’s in it. It’s a surprise when they open it. They see if there’s a market for it wherever they can fence it and sell it.”

“You feel violated. I’m glad we were made whole. I’m glad he was attempting to do the right thing,” Lucarelli. “He did say he was sorry. I said, ‘Thank you for apologizing.’ I don’t feel like he was particularly engaged, but I think he was still processing how bad this is going to be.”

All three suspects were in juvenile custody on Thursday.

The one who returned the packages actually lives Lucarelli’s neighborhood.

Lucarelli says he holds no grudges. He’s even offering to mentor the young man.

As for protecting your home deliveries, police had this advice: track them online - if you can’t be there when they arrive, have a trusted friend or neighbor grab them; also, consider home surveillance.