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N4T Investigators: Pandemic pirates

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TUCSON - Thieves have been stealing packages from front porches during the coronavirus pandemic as though it were the holiday season.

That’s the word from postal inspectors.

Home surveillance camera video shows a guy entering a courtyard on the east side after seeing packages by a front door.

The man takes a couple looks at neighboring homes to make sure no one’s watching.

This happened last Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

When you see the video, take a good look at the thief to see if you recognize him.

He stole 11 packages containing items the homeowner bought for her kids for about $350.

There was so many packages that the thief had to make two trips to hide them behind a tree.

“It’s definitely disturbing. I’m shaken,” said the homeowner, who doesn’t want to be identified for privacy concerns.

The surveillance camera above her front door captured everything, but she couldn’t capture the thief himself after she saw him leaving.

“I tried to go after him,” the victim told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

“The things that went through my head right after this happened was 'What can I do the next time if this happens again,'" she said. "To arm myself, you know, to be able to go after this guy."

The day before this happened, another thief took packages from outside a home in the city’s Sam Hughes section.

Although the quality is poor, this guy looks older than the east side thief and investigators don’t think it’s the same guy.

They said he was driving a white Toyota RAV4.

Porch pirates are on the rise during the pandemic.

An astounding 25 million Americans have had packages stolen in the last 90 days, according to a study done for Security.org.

“When times are hard, people are possibly going to change their behavior,” Dan Grossenbach, U.S. Postal Service inspector

Grossenbach said thieves know that many more home-bound consumers are buying items online during the pandemic.

“So now that people are stuck [at home] and they want to take advantage of that convenience, you’re darn right that the suspects that we’re chasing after are going to know that that’s going to bring an increase of valuable things to those people’s homes," Grossenbach said. "And that’s all the more reason to be able to safeguard that and don’t let them have that opportunity."

Grossenbach added, “The post office makes it real convenient to deliver things to your house, but don’t let it sit there. There’s even a package intercept service that may be for a small fee, but it’s worth it if it’s of value to you.”

Security experts say you should also:

  • Get a post office box
  • Have packages delivered to your work address if allowed
  • Use security cameras that are visible from the street
  • If the package is from Amazon, have it delivered to an Amazon locker
  • Require a signature upon delivery

For more tips are from the U.S. Postal Service Inspection website, click here.

The victim of Saturday’s theft was asked if she has a message for the thief.

“I don’t think anything I have to say to him would change the way he is,” she said.

If you recognize the package thieves, call Tucson Police or 88-CRIME to remain anonymous.

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Matthew Schwartz

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