Tampa Police search for porch pirates, warn of dangers

Detectives with the Tampa Police Department are searching for two suspects accused of stealing several packages from a home and are warning of the dangers of porch pirates this holiday season.

According to TPD, two suspects stole several packages from a home on the 2500 block of Watrous Avenue at around 11:42 p.m. on November 20. Police released surveillance video of the theft.

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Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said crimes like this aren't an uncommon occurrence, especially during the holidays. 

"The more people that shop online, the more packages that are delivered, that increases the chances for crime, and we have seen that increase," said Bercaw. 

Tampa Police Public Information Officer Verliz Williams said to always tell the police about these crimes, because many times they can catch the criminal – and charge them with grand theft, petty theft or trespassing.

"When someone sees movement on that camera, they see someone taking that package and they report it, that’s what we want them to do," Williams said. "Some suspect’s faces are visible, so it makes the work of detectives a lot easier to find that suspect." 

Still, she says doorbell cameras don’t always ward off criminals, so to take other precautions. 

"Ring cameras are great, but sometimes they don’t prevent the suspects from taking packages, so the best thing you can do is invest in a porch lock box, utilize Amazon lockers, or secure facilities like FedEx offices or UPS stores where you can come pick it up," Williams told FOX 13. 

"If you see your package is about to be delivered in a certain time frame, call a friend, neighbor, loved one, and see if they can pick up that up as soon as its delivered so it’s not sitting out there for an extended period of time." 

Police encourage anyone with information that could help detectives with the investigation to call TPD at 813-231-6130. They also shared several tips to help residents minimize their risk of becoming a target for porch pirates:

  • Purchase a porch lock box that is designed to receive packages and keep them secure. Typically, lock boxes can only be opened with a key or lock combination.
  • Utilizing the feature to track a package, ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to pick up your package(s) once they're delivered.
  • If given the option, require a signature upon delivery. -Request for packages to be delivered at secure locations such as Amazon lockers, FedEx or UPS stores.
  • Bonus: If you plan on delivering a package directly to a recipient, give them a heads-up and ask if they have a delivery preference.