In context: ’Tis the season to be jolly — unless someone stole your Christmas presents right off your front stoop shortly after they were delivered. Package theft is a growing problem, and it is particularly prevalent during the holiday season when people do a lot of online gift shopping.
Police in Jersey City have begun a sting operation in which they place fake Amazon deliveries on doorsteps to try to apprehend package pilferers. Authorities will set up homes with doorbell cameras in the area of the operation. They then "deliver" Amazon boxes embedded with GPS trackers.
According to the Associated Press, the JCPD has been working in cooperation with Amazon to place the boxes in locations that have the highest number of reported thefts. In many cases, it did not take long for the criminals to act.
“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said James Crecco, the police captain in charge of the operation. “[It happened so fast] we thought it was a mistake at first.”
Of course, the crook was captured almost as quickly.
The setups are not always successful though, and the project is limited in scope. There is no way the department could cover as much area as it would like. However, officials are hoping that word of the operation will work as a deterrent for would-be Christmas Grinches.
New Jersey is not the only locale employing such measures. According to CBS This Morning, police departments in Houston, Pittsburg, Los Angeles, and New York also have similar operations. So if you are a Grinch yourself, consider this a warning.
The program has been reviewed by the city prosecutor presumably to be sure crooks could not make an entrapment case. The operation was not only given the green light, but officials would like to see the sting expanded with Amazon's help.
Nobody is immune to this growing problem. Capt. Crecco said that even his mother was a victim. A spokesperson for the Jersey City mayor's office also told the AP that Mayor Steven Fulop had also been hit by package pirates.
Indeed, last year someone stole a styrofoam cooler full of Omaha Steaks sent by my mother-in-law off my porch. Ironically, the thief was a neighbor. He left a note on my door a couple days later claiming that he had taken the package “by mistake” and that he had them in his freezer if I "wanted to come by to get them." Uh, no thanks.