Harris Co. Sheriff's Office catching porch pirates with new plan

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has a new strategy to try and catch “porch pirates” who steal packages left outside homes.

“We’re actually staging packages outside houses in Harris County,” said HCSO Investigator Javier Urena.

The HCSO’s staged packages are stuffed with tracking devices. According to Urena, they hope thieves will take their hidden tracking devices so they can catch them.

“The investigator right now is walking with a package throughout the parking lot.,” said Urena, describing the tracking device in a recent video. “This software is so good; it’ll even tell you what parking space she is walking by.”

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The 2020 pandemic is forcing many people to shop online instead of in-person. In fact, Cyber Monday was the busiest online shopping day in United States history. Millions of packages are expected to be delivered this holiday season.

“We try to be proactive to try and prevent theft,” said Urena.

If you’re expecting a package, authorities recommend adding a note to have it delivered in a hidden place.  In addition, avoid leaving delivered packages outside too long.

“Try to recover the package as soon as possible, or at least conceal it as best as possible,” said Urena. “Porch pirates are driving by, if they don’t see it, they’re going to keep going.”

Stealing packages is now a felony in Texas. The penalty severity depends on the number of items stolen and their costs. Package thieves can be sentenced several years in jail and face thousands of dollars in fines.

“Next time you see a package, consider it twice,” said Urena. “You are going to go to jail. You just don’t know what package is being tracked.”

If you have a package stolen, make sure to report it as soon as possible to local authorities.