CLEVELAND — You see more "porch pirating" during the holiday season, but residents in neighborhood watch groups throughout the west side of Cleveland are sounding the alarm about the rise in this type of crime.
The criminals walk up to the home and steal packages right off the doorstep or porch. Residents in Old Brooklyn, Ohio City and Gordon Square have posted doorbell footage of porch pirates on social media.
Just a few days ago, Cleveland’s Second District Police Facebook Page posted a photo of what appeared to be two men, stealing off of porches, asking anyone with information on their identities to come forward.
The trespassing and theft have forced residents like Tyler Stimpert and his partner to add security measures.
“We built a privacy gate, in addition to the gate he was like ‘we also need flood lights on both sides of the house. We need to make sure the camera is adjusted and not just catching 30 seconds,’” he said.
The two weren’t victims of porch pirates like their neighbors in Gordon Square, but they did have incidents where people trespassed in their backyard. In one incident that was caught on camera, you can see a man clearly walking into their backyard and then turning into their garage.
Stimpert said he stole his partner’s beloved vintage bike.
“Definitely felt invaded and, you know, definitely like lost our sense of privacy,” Stimpert said. “We literally moved here to be closer to the community center and instead we’re installing extra security because things are getting stolen right out of our backyard.”
He said it’s disheartening.
“Even though we have all these countermeasures in place, it really is sad that we still have to be concerned about it,” Stimpert said.
Kris Harsh, Cleveland’s Ward 13 Councilman, said he is disappointed but not surprised that there’s been an uptick in porch pirates.
“These are just thieves. This is the modern-day purse snatchers,” said Harsh. “When the weather warms up, we see an increase in crime throughout the city, throughout all categories. It’s something people need to be aware of and keep their eye out for and hopefully the people that are home during the day can do their job, do their share, and keep an eye on the street.”
Harsh is hopeful that surveillance footage will aid police in catching those responsible but adds there are some ways to try and safeguard your deliveries.
“Have a package require a signature. You can also set up your own lockbox on your porch that allows the Amazon driver, or whoever, to have an access code to put it in your lockbox, specifically, and, of course, you can use off-site pickup. There are lockers throughout the city,” Harsh said.
But adds the most important safeguard: talking to your neighbors.
“If you have retirees that are home during the day, talk to them, get to know them. Ask them if they would be willing to have your packages delivered to their house because then they can sign for it,” Harsh said. “Whenever you have a community where more people talk to each other and there’s more people who know each other, that is a safer neighborhood.”
Harsh has a harsh word for the criminals.
“Everyone is hiring. Wages are up. Now is the time to get your life straight and go get a job because they’re pretty easy to find," he said.
Cleveland Police encourage residents to bring packages inside as soon as possible, instruct delivery personnel to place items in areas that aren’t visible from the street and encourage anyone with video of illegal or suspicious activity to contact law enforcement.
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