Neighborhood shops offer protection from ‘porch pirates’

porch, package, theft, Kentwood
Surveillance video captured a man stealing a package off Paul VanRandwyk's front porch in Kentwood on Jan. 7, 2017.

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — With the advent of Bluetooth home security systems, more homeowners are catching thieves taking packages off their porches.

A Kentwood man Wednesday shared video showing the audacity of one crook who walked up to the front door, swiped a package, then casually walked away within seconds.

But there’s not much customers can do if they’re not home.

Barista Michi Farias hears the same story from her customers at Palatte Coffee & Art.

“I couldn’t tell you the number, but it’ a couple every couple of weeks,” said Farias.

Her shop at Fulton Street near Jefferson Avenue SE has become a pickup and dropoff point for UPS. Customers worried about security can request their packages be sent to a designated place in the neighborhood, like Palatte Coffee and Art.

The shop collects packages from a two-mile radius, which covers parts of downtown and Heritage Hill.

Farias says many people are surprised their pickup point is at a business, but the setup is beneficial for both the package owner and the shop.

“We get calls all the time, ‘Is my package at your coffee shop?’ ‘Yeah, yeah it is.’ They come by and get a coffee and hang out for a bit,” said Farias. “This is a lot closer. You can just drop by and it’s a lot more convenient because we have longer hours.”

UPS has sites in other neighborhoods, like Alger Heights where, according to the neighborhood association’s Facebook page, as many as four homes were hit by porch package thieves on Feb. 2.

“A lot of them are getting stolen in this area and it’s been a reoccurring problem for a lot of people,” said Farias.

For customers relying on the U.S. Postal Service, Consumer Reports recommends authorizing package carriers to deliver to a less visible location at home or GoPost site. Customers can also request packages be held for pickup at their local post office.

FedEx also offers customized delivery or package hold.