How police are dealing with Seattle’s ‘prolific’ porch pirates
As the holiday season kick into full gear, the Seattle area’s problems with porch pirates are only likely to continue, ranked 5th in the nation for package theft. That being so, what is the city’s law enforcement doing to combat this ever-growing problem?
The Seattle Police Department has a handful of tactics designed to help quell porch piracy. Chief among them, a method used to combat package thieves known to tail delivery trucks.
“We followed them too with undercover detectives, so it’s like it’s this game of cat and mouse,” SPD Sergeant Sean Whitcomb told KIRO Radio’s Colleen O’Brien and Aaron Granillo.
Beyond that, it’s about looking at trends for when and where package theft occurs most often, something that’s strengthened whenever victims report those thefts to the police.
“That helps us with the data,” Whitcomb noted. “Believe it or not, some people have their stuff stolen and they just reorder it. By reporting it to us, we know where it’s happening and more likely than not who’s doing it.”
As for who these porch pirates are, Whitcomb uses what’s become a familiar label to categorize them.
“Because so many of these crimes are done by the same people, they’re prolific offenders,” he said.
That’s driven by what Whitcomb calls a “target rich environment” in Seattle, thanks to a dense population, and a growing number of people who have less time to shop, and resort to ordering most things online.
A recent study also found that over half of the metros where porch pirates strike the most are also perhaps not coincidentally high-tech hubs, including San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Baltimore, Seattle, Austin, and Denver. The information lines up with previous assessments, such as one from PEMCO Insurance last year that found roughly half of all Washington residents have had a package stolen from their home.
Whitcomb advises anyone who orders packages online to either make use of a locker or pick them up at the facility.
“If you’re expecting something that is valuable to you, don’t take a chance with that,” he said. “if you’ve ordered some high-end electronic, you want to make sure that’s going to get into your hands.”