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Should Seattle police not devote resources to porch pirates?

(AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

Package theft committed by so-called porch pirates is expected to increase this holiday season, and Seattle police are making an effort to step up protections. But as Seattle police have pointed out, sometimes victims don’t even report the thefts and just reorder through Amazon.

“In defense of that, a lot of people have been taught here that Seattle police are wildly understaffed, they don’t have time to go back and investigate car thefts, break-ins, things like that,” KIRO radio’s Todd Herman said. “So I’m curious: What is driving the decision to apply resources to the porch pirate thing, when in fact Amazon appears not to care? They’ll just send you more stuff.”

Since many of the prolific package thieves strike by tailing delivery trucks, Seattle police have been tailing them with undercover detectives in order to catch them in the act. Police are also looking at target rich areas in an effort to identify patterns.

KIRO Radio’s Candy Harper says the fear is that these can potentially be gateway crimes.

“From what I have heard, though, it is porch pirates that then lead into trespassing, that lead into potential smash and grabs of the car that’s in the driveway, that leads into trying to get into a front door,” she said.

How police are dealing with Seattle’s ‘prolific’ porch pirates

“I think it actually works the other way around,” added co-host Mike Lewis. “I mean, I think people who were doing the smash and grabs and who were doing the other things now find this much easier. It’s nice to get what you’re stealing already safely boxed up for you and ready to go,” he joked.

New analysis shows that the Seattle-Tacoma region is the fifth-worst nationally for package theft. Because deliveries increase around the holidays, so do the thefts. Seattle-Tacoma had a larceny theft rate of 22.70, meaning approximately 22 incidents per 1,000 people.

Study: Seattle area 5th in nation for package theft, worst at holidays

“So is this a misapplication of resources? I don’t blame the cops at all because of how understaffed they are,” Todd said. “They need to be able to prioritize crimes of violence, crimes that can lead to violence like break-ins and things like that. And with this heavy load of repeat offenders, this just seems like it’s a misapplication of resources.”

Mike believes combating package theft means there needs to be changes at the shipping end.

“I think if you want to solve the porch pirate problem, it has to be solved from the shipping end of it. And if they say we’re no longer replacing things, watch how quickly people start calibrating,” he said. “Are they going to lose some sales? No question. Is it going to help in-person brick and mortar retail? Probably. I don’t mind either of those two things.”

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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