The call to police came at 4:30 p.m., two days before Christmas. A “porch pirate” was at it again, this time swiping holiday packages delivered to front porches and front steps in Georgetown.
D.C. police said they found a man at 31st and O streets NW pushing a fold-up grocery cart with 13 packages authorities said did not belong to him. Police said all had been taken from nearby residences.
Officers returned several to their rightful owners. The police department boasted on Twitter under the hashtag #ReturningChristmasJoy and posted pictures of what they said was recovered loot that included the game Pick-Up Sticks, an iPad, a coffee cup and a Brunello Cucinelli shirt.
“MPD is like UPS, same-day delivery,” said Joe Gibbons, the chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale.
Stealing packages from front porches is a persistent crime that leaves no neighborhood immune and produces a miniature crime wave around the holidays. A surveillance camera caught a man in the District dancing on porches before stealing packages.
Residents across the country have tried to find innovative ways to combat the problem. One man in Washington state has a device that shoots off a 12-gauge blank when a package is lifted. A D.C. woman told The Washington Post that after having $1,000 in packages taken, she left a heavy box behind filled with her dogs’ poop.
Gibbons said he didn’t think that package thefts had gotten worse this year, but he also doesn’t think the situation has gotten much better. He did say the proliferation of surveillance cameras and other devices that can alert people to suspicious characters have turned the tables on some thieves. The District offers residents rebates and vouchers toward video surveillance systems.
“Technology has really changed to benefit us,” Gibbons said. “This is the first year residents felt a little more in control, and being proactive to wrangle people for taking something from you. . . . For the first time, the neighborhood feels empowered.”
Four victims listed in an eight-page police report could not be reached or declined to comment Monday.
Police charged Mario Wilson, 29, with numerous counts of theft.