Safe From Scams: Porch Poachers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "People have been coming in and taking people's packages in the building frequently," said Trevor Dougherty, fraud victim.

Dougherty said he had two packages stolen from the front foyer of his apartment building. His building has two doors-- the first one into the foyer is unlocked and packages are often left here.

"I was waiting to receive a jacket and it was very cold, cause it was winter, and I was super excited to have it and I came home and it wasn't here," said Dougherty.

Dougherty called postal inspectors who learned there were similar complaints in the same area.

"The suspect identified apartment buildings that had vulnerabilities. Packages were simply left outside, they were unsecured and he took advantage of that," said David Anderchak, US Postal Inspector.

When investigators found opened packages in a nearby dumpster, they began to look at video camera footage.

"Once we identified the area where he was disposing of the items at this dumpster, we were able to capture video of him on these occasions. We also utilized the video from several of these apartment buildings where the thefts occurred," said Anderchak.

Inspectors were able to send the packages to a crime lab where fingerprints showed an exact match to a suspect.

"From the video, from the times of delivery, we were able to develop some patterns and we were able to do surveillance and catch him red-handed," said Anderchak.

More than 30 victims lost 40 packages. Inspectors said the suspect would open the packages and sell the items immediately.

Dougherty said he thinks working professionals who aren't at home in the middle of the day are often targeted. Now, neighbors are helping neighbors.

"If someone is here and they see packages in the hallway, they will bring them in, put them in front of somebody's door then let you know if they see you or talk to you that you do have a package."

Postal inspectors also recommend tracking packages and asking a neighbor or relative to sign for the package.
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