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Security Cameras: Do They Stop Porch Pirates?

By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) - Porch pirates are staying busy, snatching packages in neighborhoods across the Denver metro area.

The latest troubles are being reported in Denver's Highlands neighborhood, and they come as purchases made on Cyber Monday are being delivered.

Chris Condons told CBS4 his surveillance system typically works as a deterrent for thieves.

"I think between the cameras that we intentionally place really visibly on the porch and the security sign on the front it has helped a lot," Condons said.

On Thursday morning the reward was greater than the risk for one group of porch pirates. Their elaborate scheme, however, was caught on Condon's cameras.

"They've already taken a TV and some other packages," he said, while watching the security video.

The group appears to first target a FedEx truck. Then they wait until the delivery is complete before moving in for the steal.

"One ends up being the passenger in one of the two vehicles," Condons said.

Just a few blocks away, Kate Shimko and her husband caught a similar theft on their camera. The brazen criminal shows up on their front porch at 6 a.m. to sift through their mail.

He comes with another package already in hand.

"It looks like he had already been to somebody else's house and taken a package. The police said maybe he did that so people wouldn't stop him from going on porches," Shimko said.

It's not a new crime, but it is becoming more common and the response from homeowners is often to install security cameras.

CBS4 asked Officer Robert Gibbs of the Denver Police Department if they work.

"That really is valuable to us. This video is high definition, so it really helps us identify a person involved," he said.

Gibbs says not every video will lead to an arrest, but the more evidence, the more likely they are to track down a suspect.

"We don't just ignore it, so we are going to look into every report," Gibbs said.

If you do have cameras or are thinking of purchasing some, police say there are a couple of things you can do to make them more effective:

First, make sure they are visible. The cameras alone can deter someone from coming onto your porch.

If that isn't possible, police say having a sign alerting thieves that someone is watching can also be helpful.

Karen Morfitt Joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around metro Denver. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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