Home video catches thief stealing holiday packages



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Posted on December 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 8:20 AM

AUSTIN --  A family in Northwest Austin had their holiday packages stolen right off their front porch, and the whole thing was caught on tape.

Many are expecting packages to arrive on their front steps over the next two weeks. Pakmail shipping in Northwest Austin said Monday and Tuesday are their busiest days of the year, and thieves looking for an easy steal are well aware.

Jim Skaggs' Northwest Austin neighborhood is decked with Christmas cheer. But last week, a Grinch combed the streets.

"Especially this time of year, it's tough," Skaggs said.

Video from a home surveillance camera shows a man strolling up to the front door. He picks up the packages and walks back to his silver Volkswagen beetle, then he's off.

"[It's] kind of disturbing to see how casually it was done," Skaggs said.

He was at work when it happened.

"While I'm making an honest living someone is exploiting that, just taking the things that other people have paid for. So, it's disgusting."

The thief took off with a Christmas present for Skaggs from his wife and some birthday presents for their two-year-old daughter.

"Being that my daughter's gift was in there, that kind of kicked me into daddy mode. You don't mess with my children," he said.

The next day, he let his neighbors know what happened and some of them responded, saying they also had packages stolen from their front porch.

"They follow the trucks around and pick them up," said Pakmail store owner Joel Altsman.
"There are crooks out there, and this time of year it's easy pickings, because everybody is getting packages."

Altsman said unfortunately it's common this time of year, but there are some things you can do to prevent theft.

He suggested shipping packages to work if your employer allows it. You can also ask the shipper to require a signature. Another tip, he said, is to make sure anything you send is in an unmarked box so it's not obvious what's inside. You can even rent a mailbox and have items held there for safekeeping.

"We sign for it, take it for you, and that's good all year round. Keeps it out of the weather and from getting stolen," Altsman said.

Red tape now marks Skaggs' home, reminding crooks to smile for the camera. Still, even with the surveillance in place, he said he's not taking any chances.

"I think packages are going to start coming to work," Skaggs said.

Skaggs said the good news is Amazon replaced all of their gifts at no extra charge. While that may not be the case with every company, it doesn't hurt to ask.


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