Police in Kennewick, Washington are asking the public for help in tracking down two women who allegedly stole packages from residents' porches. The women were seen wearing gloves and dressed as nurses, but police do not believe they really are health care workers. Both women even wore lanyards with what looked like identification badges.
"Officers are currently investigating a case of porch piracy and need your help," the Kennewick Police Department shared on Facebook. "Both suspects have been reported as stealing packages delivered to Kennewick residences. If you recognize either female or the vehicle pictured please contact non emergency dispatch at 509 628-0333 and provide KPD Case 20-16877."
Police added they do not believe the women really work as nurses. "The nurses we are fortunate to know only give their time, lives, and take the vitals of their patients (not their property). Thank you for your help with their identification," the department added.
One of the packages was stolen from the home of a real nurse and a law enforcement officer Wednesday. "We have a home security system so I pulled up the videos,"Michelle Santiago, who was working at the time the package was delivered, told CNN. "I could see the FedEx driver drop the package off around 3 o'clock that afternoon in one video and in (a following) video this woman walks up and takes it less than 5 minutes later."
Santiago said the package was an organizer for her husband's police equipment. She shared the video with others in her neighborhood and they discovered other package thefts. "Even if we had been home I don't know if I would've gotten out there fast enough to get the package. She literally grabbed the package minutes after it was dropped," Santiago explained.
"Porch pirates" are a problem year round, but usually the crime peaks around the holiday season in December. However, there have been more instances during the coronavirus pandemic, as more Americans order products online while staying home. Last month, Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Robert Arcos told the Los Angeles Times overall theft is down in Los Angeles, but package thefts are still happening. LAPD even caught a driver in an SVU trailing a delivery truck on video. The driver was stealing packages minutes after they were dropped off by the delivery truck driver.
In another case of mail theft, a Brooklyn, New York man was arrested for allegedly stealing stimulus checks right out of mail boxes. When police apprehended 31-year-old Feng Chen, he allegedly had over $12,000 worth of checks credit cards and other mail with different names on him. Federal prosecutor charged him with mail theft.