Sheepshead Bay and surrounding areas are being preyed on by unscrupulous package thieves, who brazenly pilfer front porches in daring daylight raids, locals claim.
“It is a dangerous situation because you don’t know what they are carrying or what is in the package,” said Dave Weiner, a longtime Sheepshead Bay resident and real estate agent.
Weiner joined other Bay residents at an Aug. 13 community meeting to vent his frustration over numerous package thefts he’s witnessed to officers with the 61st Police Precinct — which covers Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Manhattan Beach — saying he often sees people scurrying off with packages left for residents of Bedford Avenue, a charming, well-to-do street he frequents for his work in real estate.
“It struck me — why was someone retrieving several packages after 10 p.m. and walking away from the home instead of bringing them into the home… It did not register to me until I started hearing all the complaints from neighbors, and online as well that it must have been a theft of packages,” said Weiner.
The real estate agent said the block where he lives on Batchelder Street between avenues V and U is not immune to package thievery either, and Weiner claims the sticky-fingered mailmen have tried to nab his parcels in the past.
They tried to take the packages that were inside [my shed, but thank god I had it chained up,” he claimed.
Package thievery is not a new phenomena, nor is it relegated to Sheepshead Bay, according to Jim Cafiero, a security expert with High Tech Security, who suggested that people are probably more aware of the thefts due to the proliferation of relatively cheap doorbell cameras catching the parcel perps in the act.
These “porch pirates,” as Cafiero calls them, follow delivery trucks and wait for the package to be placed on the porch or stoop, before then nabbing them in brazen, daylight heists, he said.
Many victims don’t go to the trouble of reporting the crime to police, fearing reprisal from the thieves, or simply not willing to endure the hassle when many companies will cover the cost of the stolen item, Cafiero said.
“It’s gotten to the point where my customers don’t even tell me about it anymore,” Cafiero said.
And when package thieves are busted, the legal consequences are often light. A notorious Dyker Heights package thief has preyed on her neighborhood for nearly two decades, despite numerous arrests that have never added up to more than a few months in prison.
Police Officers Sawh and Marcillo, who discussed the problem with locals at the Aug. 13 meeting, said they have managed to cuff porch pirates in the past with help from local community members, and encouraged the audience to always call police when they witness a crime.