Video: ‘Tis the season… for package theft?

A resident in North Berkeley shared this video of a recent package theft from his front porch. The dog didn’t miss it but no one else was around to take note. That’s not surprising, given how fast so-called “porch pirates” can make their getaway. Blink, and you might miss it, too.

This particular theft happened Dec. 11. The resident who shared it with Berkeleyside said he wanted “to warn other potential victims.”

Many community message boards, including NextDoor, have recently been abuzz with surveillance photos and tips about how to avoid having your own holiday packages stolen.

Over the weekend, neighbors near Vine and Henry streets said a package was taken from their porch just minutes after it was dropped off: “It seems as though he was following the delivery guy and targeting what’s left, given how quick he was,” they wrote on NextDoor.


Replied another, “I think they are following the delivery trucks. Usually in a car, two people, one gets out and grabs the package, hops back in the car. I saw one duo the other morning when I was walking the dog, but couldn’t get [a] license plate number. They turned off when they saw me watching them.”

One woman in the North Shattuck area wrote on NextDoor that she has seen “a serious uptick” this year.

“Last year, I had 1 package stolen,” she wrote. “This year it’s been 6, and I try to encourage everyone to mail things to my work address now. I would say 70% of all I have tried to have sent to my home has been stolen. The thieves have been so kind as to leave my ripped open boxes with packing peanuts at my door. I filed online police reports and talked to my UPS driver about it, but no change.”

Earlier this month, on the Berkeley-Oakland border, armed carjackers stole an entire FedEx truck, and later abandoned it.

Some residents said they have taken to leaving “dummy packages,” or boxes full of heavy old textbooks — or garbage — as a way to teach thieves a lesson. They said having packages shipped to work can be a solution in some cases, while UPS stores and Amazon Lockers can also provide security. For those who want to stick with their home address, some basic tweaks could make a difference.


“Put ‘leave on rear porch’ or ‘drop over fence’ right in your ship-to address when ordering, or put a 1-way hatch into the fence or gate, if any of those can work at your place. If what you ordered was distinctive, look for it (with invoice on you) on Craig’s List & at the Ashby & Laney flea markets every weekend,” wrote a McGee Spaulding resident. “Porch lights, motion-detector lights & obvious security cameras may help to eventually catch the perps, but do little to discourage this grab ‘n run crime.”

Use the comments below to share what you’ve seen in your neighborhoods, along with any good tips to combat package theft.