TARZANA (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Police Department says it has busted a sophisticated package-theft ring that preyed on homeowners in the San Fernando Valley.
Authorities said the thieves used a delivery service's smartphone app to follow trucks delivering packages.
The thieves would wait for the packages to be delivered and then scoop them up moments later.
The package pilferers were so brazen, KCAL9's Andrea Fujii reports, the LAPD came up with a name for them: "porch pirates."
She spoke to homeowner Rick Deckman, who said he was a victim of the ring.
When Deckman said he didn't receive packages he ordered online, he went right to his home security system to see what happened.
"I said 'My packages aren't here. Where are they?' " Deckman said.
His many video cameras showed UPS delivering the two boxes. But seconds later, a U-Haul truck pulls into his driveway, backs in and then the driver goes up to his porch and takes the boxes.
"I watched him walk up my walkway and steal my packages and leave. I was blown away," Deckman said.
His cameras caught a clear shot of the U-Haul's license plate.
Detectives tracked the truck to an address in Northridge. They arrested the driver and another woman, who they said had hundreds of stolen packages and pieces of mail from Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills in her possession.
Police said their suspect has been arrested for mail theft before. In fact, they told Fujii, he is currently on probation for the same thing.
Meanwhile, Deckman's packages were recovered. They weren't major items (a ruler and some boxes of refrigerator freshener) but he was able to help stop a thief.
"I was so mad, but I was so excited. So excited that I could give them a lead," Deckman said.
Police said they have returned some of the packages to their rightful owners.
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