Package thieves on the prowl, but so are police

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Porch pirates are on the prowl this holiday season. Clearwater police arrested two people this week for stealing packages off of home doorsteps.

According to police, a home security camera recorded one of them as she walked her bike up to the front door of a home on Ashton Abbey Road this week to steal packages.

That suspect, 34-year-old Kelly Story faces two counts of petty theft.

The video appears to show Story taking her time opening each package. She later hands two of the packages to a young child sitting in an attached bike seat to hold as she rode away.

A resident recognized Story from the home surveillance video and contacted police.

"A lot of times, it's just crimes of opportunity. Somebody will be driving by, walking by, and if they see packages on a doorstep, that to them is a golden opportunity to basically go steal your stuff," said Rob Shaw, Spokesperson for the Clearwater Police Department.

In another case, a juvenile suspect was caught on Friday after allegedly snatching packages off the doorstep of a home near the Clearwater Airpark and running away. A Facebook user recognized her from home surveillance video police shared online.

According to Clearwater police, good home surveillance cameras are playing a big role in helping them track down thieves.

"What's really neat is how clear, how vivid, and how wonderful these images are. They're not grainy. It's not like you're trying to figure out, 'Who is that person?'" explained Shaw.

At Best Buy on U.S. 19 North in Clearwater, managers said home security systems have been selling fast over the past few weeks.

"This is a very popular smart home solution, and the more connected people are to their home while they're inside, outside or on vacation the better," said General Manager Thomas Gray.

A hot item this holiday season is the Ring doorbell camera.

"You ring the doorbell, and an image will pop up of whoever is at that doorstep. You can see them on video and you can talk to them," said Gray.

Many cameras allow you to access the video through an app on your phone. Home security cameras with mobile access can range in price from $35 to $600, depending on if the camera is high definition, if it offers wide-angle images or if it has night vision.

Clearwater police are advising residents not to leave packages on their doorsteps for hours.

Instead, police recommending having packages delivered to a workplace, to a relative who is home or to set up a buddy system with neighbors to pick up each other's packages on the date of delivery.