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Sheriff Paul Penzone spots package thieves in his own neighborhood

(Screenshot and AP Photo)
LISTEN: Paul Penzone, Maricopa County Sheriff

PHOENIX — Those thieves sure chose the wrong neighborhood: Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Wednesday that he spotted three package thieves near his own door recently.

Penzone said he was at home when he got a notification from his doorbell — which has a motion detector — that someone had walked near it.

About 30 minutes later, “I see this guy go right past the face of my door. Not on the sidewalk, he’s literally in my doorway space,” the sheriff told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes.

Penzone said he pulled up feeds from other cameras around his home and counted at least three people searching his neighborhood for packages to steal.

He said one person was acting as a lookout while one directed the searcher.

“He had three backpacks on and he was just going through the neighborhood to see if anyone had packages delivered he could just grab and walk away with,” Penzone said, adding that at least two cars were circling nearby.

The sheriff said he was able to get the license plate of both cars and descriptions of everyone, which he passed on to police. He did not specify if they were caught.

Penzone said his story was a good example of how prevalent this crime has become and, given that his experience did not happen during the holidays, the way it can increase.

“This is a trending crime that is relatively still in its infancy stage even though it’s been going on for sometime, I don’t think we — collectively as a society, a private industry or law enforcement — have gotten our arms around what it will take to make sure that we’re tracking accurately, which requires reporting,” he said.

Penzone said one of the biggest issues law enforcement runs into when it comes to package theft is the lack of people reporting it.

“Oftentimes, we may order something and expect delivery and when it doesn’t show up, we just say, ‘Hey, it didn’t show up’ and that company may just send us a new one and no criminal report is filed,” he said.

The sheriff said the internet has driven the rise in so-called package pirates because people tend to order more things online and it’s easier to sell stolen goods.

“You’re going to find things that are sold second-hand but are new products because they were stolen so there’s literally a network in place to have a business structure to move these products,” he said.

Penzone said people who want to prevent things being stolen should get a PO box, send things to their workplace or have neighbors keep an eye out for deliveries.

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