AUSTIN -- Police have charged a man after they said a UPS delivery worker saw him steal a package from a homeowner's front porch on Wednesday.
According to an arrest affidavit, the UPS worker was delivering packages in the 6300 block of Dorchester Drive near Brunswick Drive in East Austin when his assistant saw a man come out from behind a home, grab a package off the doorstep, and rip it open.
Police said the man also broke in to the woman's house through the back door, according to the affidavit. The homeowner later told police that she was missing a Dell laptop and her roommate's iPad and cell phone.
"I've never had a break-in. It was quite shocking," said the woman who lives there, who does not want her name used. He was really just looking for electronics," she said. "The package was a cell phone, a brand-new cell phone that my roommate had just ordered."
The worker said he yelled at the suspect, 18-year-old Kamaure Barker, asking him why he was opening someone's package, and the man began walking away. The worker and his assistant followed him before calling 911. Officers arrested him about half a mile from the home and found the missing electronics in his bag. Police charged him with burglary.
"I was very, very happy that [the UPS worker] realized that something fishy was going on," the woman said.
The woman called the UPS driver her hero and even gave him a Christmas gift in return for getting her possessions back safe and sound.
"I did call him and ask him if he wanted to come over and pick up a unique piece of art work since I'm an artist, and so I gave him one of my art pieces as a thank you gift," she said.
The affidavit states the UPS employee told officers that package thefts increase during the holiday season, so employees are told to report suspicious activity.
Other delivery companies have similar policies. Joe Altsman, the owner of the PakMail on Anderson Mill, said this time of year, everyone should keep a close eye on any incoming holiday gifts.
"You got to be careful. Targets of opportunity," said Joe Altsman, the owner of the PakMail on Anderson Mill.
While there's a seasonal spike in the number that gets stolen, Altsman said it's rare.
"The millions and millions and millions of packages that get shipped every year, a tiny tiny fraction go missing," Altsman said.
According to UPS, Monday was expected to be the company's peak delivery day for the year, with more than 34 million packages delivered worldwide. Last year's single-day delivery record was 31 million packages. UPS said six days are expected to surpass this record. UPS also said it expects to deliver more than 585 million packages throughout December, an increase of 11 percent from last year.