Stealing Christmas Safety tips aim to keep homes, packages safe

Courtesy of Charlene Su
Los Altos resident Charlene Su shared a Ring freeze frame on Nextdoor to alert neighbors to the thief who stole packages off her front porch.

After yet another resident posted a Ring security video on Nextdoor showing someone stealing packages from her front porch, the Los Altos Police Department issued tips to ensure the crime doesn’t happen to others.

Santa Rita Court resident Charlene Su alerted her neighbors last week that a man wearing a mask and a yellow raincoat and driving a “metallic sedan” had taken packages off her front steps with no hesitation. In just over a minute, the suspect stole a few packages, stowed them in the back of his gray car and returned for a larger package before fleeing the scene. Su added that because the suspect “very easily lifted a 30-plus-pound box and threw it into his car tells me he is in his 20s or 30s.”

“I’m so disheartened at how awful some people can be,” Su said on the post that captured the suspect in action.

The incident occurred at approximately 2:20 p.m. Nov. 21.

Capt. Scott McCrossin last week sent the Town Crier a community message the police department was preparing to send out, recommending that residents adjust deliveries to a time when someone is home or have packages sent to lockers at stores.

“Amazon Lockers are available at the Safeway on First Street and Whole Foods on El Camino Real,” the release stated. “Additional Amazon Locker locations can be found when selecting a shipping address during the checkout process or when adding a new address in your account. If Amazon Locker is not an option, and you are a frequent online shopper, consider using the UPS Store, check the availability of lockers in nearby convenience stores, kiosks or buy your own digital locker.”

If allowed, officers also suggest having packages shipped to the workplace. Another tip: select “signature required” on all online orders.

For residents with security cameras, police advised pointing them at the front door, hallway or driveway to catch thieves red-handed.

“If caught in the CCTV footage swiping a package off the front porch, the footage can be used to identify frequent package pinchers and help substantiate a theft for refund and replacement,” the release stated.

It’s also possible to pay an extra fee to companies such as Fedex and UPS to reroute your package to another address or ask them to place a vacation hold on a package (usually a free service).

Last but not least, police recommend insuring packages so that victims can be reimbursed if they are lost or stolen.

Like Su, many residents post videos of their package thefts on social media websites like Nextdoor with the good intention of alerting their neighbors so that the same thing doesn’t happen to them. However, it could be more fruitful to keep the matter between the resident and the police department, according to Los Altos Police Chief Andy Galea.

“I think it would be more productive in contacting the PD and providing us with the video so we can make sure our patrol personnel and investigators have it,” he said.

Su confirmed that she and her family had filed a police report. So far, the suspect has not been identified.

“We are doing everything we can to track him down,” Su said.

Anyone who observes suspicious activity is urged to report it to the Los Altos Police Department as soon as possible by calling the nonemergency number at 947-2770.

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