Two teenagers suspected of stealing more than 30 packages delivered to homes during the busy holiday season — allegedly getting away with items such as Ugg boots, snow globes, a fire extinguisher and tech devices — have been apprehended, according to Prince George's County police.
The 17-year-olds, whose identities were not released because they're being charged as juveniles, mostly targeted homes in Largo and Upper Marlboro in December, police said.
And they could be picky: In some cases, the teens would tear open the packages after removing them from porches and abandon items they didn't care for, Capt. Jason Fisher said.
The suspects were arrested after residents helped detectives, providing images captured on home surveillance systems showing goods being snapped up from their porches, police said.
"The work with residents and the victims themselves was very effective in this case," said Fisher, a commander in the Prince George's police department's Regional Investigations Division. "Investigators were able to identify a vehicle in which they were able to subsequently narrow down the suspects."
About half of the stolen packages, some of which included toys for children or holiday gifts, have been returned to residents with the help of U.S. postal inspectors, Fisher said. Other stolen items included a coffee maker, a board game and a child's backpack, Fisher said.
The teens have been charged with five counts of theft and conspiracy, Fisher said.
Package thefts tend to spike in the weeks before Christmas, but as consumers increasingly make purchases online, the problem will remain throughout the year, police say.
The thefts cause so much frustration that one man created an audio device to deter potential porch pirates by tricking them into thinking they are being shot at. In other cases, viral videos show some people chasing those who appear to be making off with items.
Authorities recommend having items delivered to work, picked up at a store or post office or making sure someone is at home during delivery hours.
"You lose your sense of security when things like that happen," Fisher said. "Make sure you protect yourself."