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Witnesses To Package Thefts Say They're Getting Runaround From 311

CHICAGO (CBS) -- 'Tis the season for package thefts, but people trying to report the crimes said they got the runaround from police and 311.

CBS 2's Steven Graves talked to the frustrated witnesses to crimes on Sunday.

They said it was their first instinct to call and report package thefts they saw with their own eyes. But they feel like it was pointless.

A normal dog walk for Eric Robinson last month suddenly got suspicious.

"I saw the guy kind of shoving two or three boxes into the back seat of the car," Robinson said.

Package Theft Witnesses Say They're Getting Runaround by CBS Chicago on YouTube

He found an envelope the man dropped outside his apartment, in the 2000 block of West Haddon Avenue in Ukrainian Village. It was sliced open with nothing inside, and all the packages from inside his complex were gone.

"Now he's maybe 20 feet away before it strikes me that I think we just got ripped off," Robinson said.

So Robinson called 911. Since it was a non-emergency, a dispatcher referred him to 311.

"He told me, 'No, this is 911,'" Robinson said.

He said after the back-and-forth, the 311 operator took down information and said someone else would follow up.

"And so that never happened," Robinson said. "And that's the last I've heard from the department."

A woman who did not want to be identified said she ran into similar problems.

"He said because I wasn't the direct victim, they couldn't take my story," she said.

The woman even had video of people she said were taking packages in the 1300 block of North Wolcott Avenue in Wicker Park.

But when she called 311, there was no luck.

"Ideally, it would just go into a database that they could say 'OK, this building or this area has seen an uptick," the woman said.

CBS 2 stopped by 311 headquarters, and no one there would speak to us. CBS 2 also put in emails to police and city staff for a response. We have not heard back.

Online, police encourage people to report non-emergencies like these, which are among the most commonly reported crimes. But frustrated residents are turning to social media.

"And then you start to see a story evolve as more people weigh in," Robinson said.

But some say it shouldn't have to come to that.

"I just think if someone does go out of their way to report something, it would be nice for police to at least take down the incident," the woman added.

If you feel as though you are not getting through, there is an online system for reporting crimes. For that system, click here.

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