LANCASTER – Some Antelope Valley residents are seeing package thefts being taken to a whole new level this holiday season.
Thieves are increasing their window of opportunity – not by targeting empty houses, but by following delivery trucks around the neighborhood and snatching packages as soon as the drop is made.
Julio Barrios, a Neighborhood Watch captain for Lancaster’s westside community, provided The AV Times with a video clip showing a suspect racing to a resident’s front porch to steal a package only seconds after the package was dropped off by a FedEx delivery truck on Monday, Dec. 7.
“The package was stolen from a neighbor’s front door on Sandhurst Lane,” Barrios said. “The suspect arrived moments after the delivery person dropped the package off and can be seen running with the package in the clip.” [See video above.]
A police report has already been filed, Barrios said. He wants to warn local residents to guard against these package thefts, which he says are happening quicker and at a much more aggressive rate.
Marcelle Girgis, the Lancaster resident victimized by the theft, said she saw the FedEx delivery person drop off the package from her computer-surveillance system. But when she went outside to retrieve her package 20 seconds later, it was gone.
“Usually I go to the computer to see who’s there,” Girgis said. “I saw that it was the FedEx person, and so I went out to get the package. But as soon as I went out, there was no package at all. It was that fast.”
Girgis said her neighbor immediately called out to her and informed her that a young male suspect grabbed the package immediately after the FedEx delivery person placed it on the porch.
“What I believe is that guy followed the FedEx truck,” Girgis said. “When I reviewed my video surveillance, he showed up exactly 20 seconds after FedEx had left. Here I am at home and I don’t have enough time to grab my own package. It’s unbelievable.”
Girgis plans to widen her video surveillance to show street activity in hopes of capturing vehicle descriptions and other identifying information, should this happen again.
Another similar incident occurred on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at a home off 60th Street West and Avenue K-8.
Lancaster resident J. Elizondo told The AV Times that her packages were stolen around 2:25 p.m.
“A UPS truck delivered packages to my front door and someone pulled into my driveway and took my packages off the doorstep,” Elizondo said.
Elizondo has filed a police report, and she captured the incident on surveillance video. She is hoping to “make this story public to help law enforcement catch the perpetrator.”
Readers who recognize the suspect in her video [see below] are asked to call the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station to bring this alleged thief to justice.
Palmdale to residents: Beware of package thieves this holiday season!
The city of Palmdale on Thursday urged residents to be aware of package thieves targeting deliveries to homes from UPS, FedEx and other courier services.
Palmdale Crime Prevention Officer Ruth Oschmann said it’s important to know “there are some grinches out there who may take [packages] right from your doorstep,” especially with the increase of online shopping for the holiday season.
“Thieves sometimes follow delivery trucks around, and when a package gets dropped off – they swoop in a few minutes later and swipe it,” said Crime Prevention Officer Kery German.
Palmdale officials advised local residents to take the following precautions to avoid becoming a victim:
- If possible, require a signature on all package deliveries.
- Write specific instructions for the delivery company on where to leave your package, for example, behind the fence or the side of the garage. UPS drivers can enter that information into their handheld computers for future deliveries.
- Have your package delivered to your work address or neighbor or relative who will be home to accept the package immediately.
- FedEx also allows you to redirect a package to another address if you know you won’t be home at the time of delivery.
According to Oschmann, if a resident experiences a package theft, they should file a police report and call the shipper immediately.
“Unless you insured your package, you may be out of luck getting reimbursed,” Oschmann said. “That is why it is so important to take the precautions we’ve suggested to ensure safe delivery.
The U.S. Postal Service is also concerned with mail and package thefts during the holiday season. Postal authorities are asking residents to report suspected theft immediately to their local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service can be reached at 877-876-2455.
Postal customers are encouraged to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint, which is available on the U.S. Postal Inspection website at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
About the authorJim Winburn is a Los Angeles area news writer. –