Investigation Uses Boxes With Tracking Devices Inside to Catch 'Porch Pirates'
It’s a frustrating crime that's happening more often than ever as packages are being snatched off porches — and most of the culprits are getting away scot-free.
Inside Edition attempted to catch so-called porch pirates in the act by leaving bait boxes outside several different homes. What they don't know is that a GPS tracking device was placed inside each box.
Inside each box was a $250 speaker. And hidden inside the speaker was the high-tech tracker. The boxes were then sealed up and left on the front porch of homes in Clifton, N.J.
With the help of Anthony Modestine from home surveillance company Ring, doorbell cameras were also installed at the homes.
It was past 1 a.m. when cameras caught a guy snatching the package and driving off in his car.
Accompanied by detectives from the Clifton Police Department, Inside Edition followed the GPS signal directly to a nearby residence.
The homeowner answered and admitted the package was in his car.
"We've got video of you at 1 a.m. — did you steal this package?" Inside Edition’s Steven Fabian asked the homeowner.
“No. I was gonna deliver it to the right person,” he claimed.
It turns out the guy is a U.S. Postal Service worker. He says he saw the package on his route.
“Driving around picking up packages at 1 a.m. on a route is suspicious,” the detective told him.
But he was not arrested or charged after police confirmed he was indeed a postal worker. The package was returned to Inside Edition.
At another home, the Ring surveillance camera recorded a hooded thief making off with a package.
The GPS tracker homed in on the location and with Det. Rob Marks along for the ride, they followed the beacon.
The arrow on the tracker pointed to the door of one home, indicating there was a 97 to 99 percent chance the package was in there.
At the home, the family gave Inside Edition and the detective permission to enter and to talk to the resident.
While there was no sign of the thief, the speaker had been left out in the open.
The resident, who didn't speak English, indicated that she didn't know how the speaker ended up in her home.
“Without the GPS tracking device, we probably would have never found the actual stolen property,” the detective said.
Police are still looking for the person who took the package and hope to make an arrest soon.
Here are additional tips you can take to ensure the safety of your packages:
- Schedule deliveries when someone's at home to receive the package.
- Use tracking numbers and email and text notifications to monitor when packages arrive.
- Have packages delivered to an alternate locations where someone can sign for it like a workplace.
- Use security cameras that record at least in 1080p resolution and have nighttime function so police can use the footage to help identify the suspect.