A Texas couple initiated a war of sorts with porch pirates, but now the police are also on the case.
When a couple in Austin, Texas, got tired of seeing thieves continually stealing packages off of their and neighbors’ porches, they decided enough was enough and decided to lay a trap by placing dirty diapers in a box on their porch.
“We need to stop this now, especially before the holidays get started,” said Gabriela, one of the victims. “They’re hitting in the middle of the day, the middle of the night. Same car. Same people.”
The thieves ended up taking the box, but when they found out they were deceived, they came back with a vengeance.
The package thieves took a bag of cow manure and trashed the couple’s front yard and car with the fertilizer.
“Thirty minutes later, they came back with a giant bag of cow manure. They spread that all over our front porch and on our cars in the driveway,” said Gabriela. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
She decided to call the cops.
“I called police, filed a report, and now there’s a detective on the case.”
She told the Austin Police Department that the thieves drive a black Chevy Suburban without plates.
The department said the manure incident could qualify as criminal mischief.
A mile away from Gabriela, resident Britany Walker also confronted package thieves but took a different approach.
“I tried to pull on their emotions or something,” Walker explained. “I just ran out and said, ‘I have a baby,’ and they looked at me and just laughed. It was a really upsetting moment.”
APD said porch-pirate victims are “well within their rights” to confront suspects, but advised that it was safer to call “9-1-1 to report the incident if it’s in progress.”
In 2019, Texas lawmakers passed laws aiming to deter porch thieves by instituting harsher penalties. Under the legislation, some cases could be charged as mail theft, which is a federal felony.
However, a 2021 article in the Houston Law Review said the legislation has not succeeded in its aim to deter the criminals.
The review also said that big-name delivery companies like Amazon should figure out ways on their end to prevent the crimes.
“The law ought to facilitate greater private sector participation in combatting porch piracy by creating a civil cause of action that would allow delivery companies to play a larger role in the solution,” the author argued.
Meanwhile, nearby Round Rock Police Department has launched “Operation Front Porch,” which allows residents to send their packages to the police department during the holiday season.
“It was very successful,” Commander Tom Sloan said. “What safer place to have your package delivered to than the police department?”
Round Rock Police have also launched a community camera program to help investigators catch suspects.
Under the program, residents with home surveillance cameras can opt to put their address and phone number into a voluntary database to help police contact them for video footage if a crime happenes in the area.