The young woman picks up the heavy package off a porch in Omaha’s Country Club neighborhood but drops it after it breaks open to reveal the contents: two 40-pound boxes of kitty litter.
“Oh, my God, that’s it? Let’s get out of here!” she says to the waiting driver of a white extended-cab pickup truck, which promptly backs out of the driveway and speeds away.
The porch pirate’s attempt to steal the package, caught on doorbell camera video, occurred Tuesday at the home of Adam Case and his wife, Jenna Yentes. It’s a scene that plays out daily across the country.
Nearly 26 million Americans reported having holiday packages stolen from their front porch or doorstep, according to a 2017 study. Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes, which commissioned the study, said the Christmas season is prime time for thieves.
“During the holidays, certain crimes and home hazards increase,” Adams said.
Case said his wife was home at the time of the attempted theft but didn’t realize UPS had dropped off the package. When she later looked out the front door, he said, her first thought was that the delivery driver “had just thrown the box down.”
In reviewing the surveillance video, Case saw that only eight minutes had elapsed between the delivery and the attempted theft. He wondered if the thieves had been trailing the UPS truck, a common tactic.
The Lincoln Police Department said 1,041 “larcenies from open areas” were reported in that city last year with a total loss of over $50,000. That was a 34 percent increase from 2016.
“Historical data shows 2017 had the highest total of open-area thefts in the last 10 years,” said Officer Angela Sands, a Lincoln police spokeswoman. “The majority of the thefts were packages from deliveries left on porches.”
The Omaha Police Department said Omaha’s theft statistics were not readily available for 2017. But Lt. Pat Rowland of the department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau said package thieves soon will be hitting their pre-Christmas stride.
Case said he’d had a sign on his door asking delivery drivers to put packages behind a fence so they aren’t visible from the street. “It had gotten torn and wasn’t on the door Tuesday,” he said. “We’ve got another sign up now.”