How one Vancouver neighbourhood caught a porch pirate Cst. Stephanie Cullingworth Vancouver PD
Though the holiday rush is past, this story is a reminder that mail theft and parcel theft happen all year long.
This past summer, a Vancouver neighbourhood had a sudden rash in crime. Mail and packages were stolen, homes broken into, and cars emptied of their contents. Crime had happened in this neighbourhood before, but now it was happening at an alarming rate and residents were concerned. Meanwhile, detectives were aware of a known property crime offender whose change in address often brought crime into the neighbourhoods he moved into.
One balmy summer day, a long-awaited online purchase was stolen from a resident’s front stoop. That’s when this particular resident had had enough. Reviewing the video from the front door, she had a clear photo of the suspect right down to the mask he wore and the logos on his shoes. She put together a poster, highlighting the suspect, his description and the crime he committed and emailed this to her neighbours.
One such neighbour was a Block Watch Captain, who had been trained to always alert her team of criminal activity as soon as she learned of it. Using the contact list for her team, she shared this “Porch Pirate” poster, and from here a classic Block Watch communication chain was created. Her Block Watch team in turn alerted neighbouring teams and their neighbours and so on. And, as all Block Watch teams are trained to do, each time crime happened to them, they called police to report.
It was a result of these reports that alerted detectives to an unprecedented amount of crime in this area. To address this crime hot spot, crime reports were analyzed and detectives determined their familiar property crime offender was a new resident of the area and the culprit.
Police spoke to the woman who made the poster, which helped connect detectives to even more crime victims. Some even had their own videos and photos to share. With all the police reports, videos and photos, detectives were able to lay charges against the offender, which resulted in his dramatic arrest as he attempted to flee.
The offender was also found to have hidden away a number of stolen items, which were successfully returned to their owners.
This is a Block Watch success story, highlighting that the Block Watch communication chain works. Not only that, but by reporting when crime happens to you, this helps police know when crime increases where you live so that resources can be directed there. If you don’t call, it’s like the crime never happened.
Kudos to this alert and vigilant neighbourhood!