Harris County deputies deploy GPS tracking packages to catch 'porch pirates'

According to a recent survey by Safewise, roughly 64% of Americans have had a package stolen from them in the last 12 months.

For the second year now, Harris County Sheriff’s deputies are trying to stop these thieves with a new tool.

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"This is an excellent way of being proactive," said HCSO Deputy Investigator Javier Urena. "[We’re] trying to go out there and catch them."

Deputies are using shipping boxes that look legitimate and stuffing them with GPS tracking devices. According to Urena, they have several boxes scattered across Harris County on given days that could track thieves. If a porch pirate takes a HCSO box left outside a home, they’ll be tracked and captured by law enforcement waiting nearby.

"They automatically start notifying me [if they’re picked up]," said Urena. "If somebody touches a package, it will set off the alarm. We’ll start pursuing."

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On Thursday, FOX 26 exclusively joined HCSO deputies as they deployed several fake packages. Urena says they chose an area Thursday that was recently targeted by porch pirates.

"Unfortunately, we weren’t there to be able to stop the theft," said Urena. "We’re coming behind to try and do something about it."

Doorbell videos are frequently shared publicly of thieves stealing packages left outside homes. According to Safewise, the most targeted packages this year were shipped by Amazon.

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No porch pirates were caught on Thursday during our report with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. However, deputies say they will continue their prevention efforts throughout the next several weeks.

"It’s a good eye-opener for [porch pirates]," said Urena. "Think about it twice, before they pick up a package, because they don’t know if we’re around the corner."