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Police Use Bait Packages To Try And Catch Thieves

NORWOOD (CBS) - It's a shadowy figure crossing Earle Street in Norwood. When a neighbor snapped a picture of the suspect who police say stole a package from a front porch and took off in a silver sedan, catching the license plate number was key to his arrest.

"He gave consent to search his car but the packages were in plain sight anyway," said Norwood Police Chief William Brooks. Packages that police say were found in 43-year-old Nakia Gunter's car and in his home just a few blocks away.

Package theft
Suspect in Norwood package thefts (WBZ-TV)

Kate Kirchberg didn't even realize she was one of his victims. "This is the perfect place for somebody to drive by and say I want it, what's stopping them," Kirchberg said. "To think somebody is that desperate to take something that doesn't belong to them is pretty upsetting."

She has now posted a sign to have packages delivered to her side door in an attempt to conceal deliveries. It's the kind of crime police say will be on the rise particularly in the final days before Christmas.

Bait package
Bait package with GPS used by Cambridge Police (WBZ-TV)

Cambridge Police have decided to try a new tactic in their effort to curb this kind of theft. Police are putting "bait" packages on doorsteps in high theft neighborhoods with a GPS tracking device inside. Once a package is moved, police can follow the thief's movements.

"They travel in vehicles, by foot, by bicycle. It's quite a few people," said Cambridge Police Officer William LaMonica.

It's a novel idea driven by the numbers. In Cambridge packages taken from lobbies and doorsteps account for at least 52 percent of thefts. Jessica Coates had gifts from her doorstep stolen in the last couple of weeks. "It's the holidays, people don't have a lot of money, but people like me have families and I'm a single mother with three kids," Coates said.

Police are even going door to door handing out consumer tips in an effort to educate residents how to safeguard their deliveries from grinches on the prowl.

"It's frustrating and disappointing to come home, a package might not be there and you don't have enough time to get it delivered in time for Christmas," said Cambridge Police Lieutenant Sil Ferreira.

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