Police Warn Shoppers To Beware Of 'Porch Pirates'

December 13, 2018 - 2:22 pm

EAST NORTHPORT, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A surge in online shopping has law enforcement on the lookout for “porch pirates.”

Just this week, a 60-year-old woman was arrested for stealing a number of packaged from the front porch of a home in East Northport.

Surveillance cameras captured the incident at a home on Montrose Lane. Deborah Amato, 60, is seen pulling into the driveway, parking her dark-colored Honda, strolling up to the front door and leaving with several packages.

She was arrested soon after and charged with petty larceny.

Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron later praised the homeowner for having cameras set up at their home.

“We have actually been able to solve other crimes by going through the neighborhood and retrieving this video, where we can see a car go by on the street and we’re able to determine what kind of car it is. It certainly helps up solve any type of criminality on the block,” he told WCBS 880.

However, as the holidays approach, police are warning shoppers to protect their packages, especially in the age of online shopping.

Though, in New Jersey, police have taken the warning a step further – working with Amazon to put GPS devices into boxes to capture potential thieves.

"When those packages move, even a matter of inches, he'll get an alert on his computer and you'll hear it go off,” Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly explained.

Detective Christopher Dolan monitors the dummy-packages on his computer and explained to WCBS 880 what he does when a package moves.

“I'll be able to see the direction of travel of the GPS, so I can expand the map and actually watch the motion in real-time,” Dolan told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Dolan can then contact cops on the street to track down the so-called “porch pirates.”

It’s recommended to ask a family member or neighbor that’s home to take packages inside. If that’s not possible, have the packages delivered to your workplace.

Police say homeowners can also leave a note on the front door asking delivery personnel to bring packages to the back of the home so they are not visible from the street.

People can also require a signature on delivery or use high-tech options like smart lockers to store packages.