According to the Urban Dictionary, the act of stealing a package from the porch of an unsuspecting stranger would make you a “porch pirate." Over 23 million packages are stolen annually from front porches all across America by these low life criminals.
While on patrol with APD, I had numerous encounters with thieves of all shapes, colors, motivations, and creativity. One time I saw an urban outdoorsman (homeless person on the move) walking down the street with what appeared to be a long block of American cheese under his arm. I stopped him and asked where he got the cheese? He told me he found it in a trash pile in front of a nearby house. When I took the block of cheese from this suspect is was cold to the touch. I asked him if he found the cheese in a trash pile, why was it still cold? And he said, “yeah, that seemed a little funny to me as well, you know…being cold and in a trash pile and all.”
I placed him in the back of my patrol car and retraced his tracks back to a house where from the street you could see a recently torn-open cold-pack shipping package laying on the front porch. He finally admitted to opening the package and stealing the cheese because he didn’t think anyone was going to eat it and he didn’t want it to go to waste. Off to jail you go, and when posing for that mugshot, say “cheese.”
While on patrol in the pouring rain one day I saw a man carrying two white porch rockers down the street. I stopped him and asked where he got the rockers. He told me in a trash pile near a house just down the street. What’s with all the trash piles? I put the rockers in the trunk of my patrol car, the suspect in the back, and cruised around looking for porches in need of two lonely, wet rockers. To no prevail, I charged the perpetrator with “Possession of Lost or Mislaid Property” and took him to jail. Bending police policy requiring me to take the rockers to Police Property as evidence, I instead used my years of experience and took them to the precinct, put a sign denoting where I found them, and waited for the rightful owners to show-up and claim them. Sure enough, the owners came to the precinct that night to make a report and “shazam”, there were the rockers. The next day I upgraded the suspects’ charges to “Theft by Taking.”
My grandpa told me a story that happened back in the 1950’s about stopping to buy some gas in an unfamiliar town. While waiting for his gas to be pumped, he saw a little 12-year-old boy reach inside another man’s car and steal a lady’s purse and run behind the station. When the man returned, Grandpa told him about the theft and the man laughed and said, “Shh, just wait a minute.” Right directly everyone could hear a blood-curdling scream come from behind the station. Everyone wondered why the boy was screaming and the victim of the theft said, while still laughing, “little did that boy know, but when he reached inside there was a 6-foot king snake in the purse.” That must have been the beginning of the “Scared-Straight Program.
Thievery confounds the spirit of the honest man and begs for restitution. Kind of wish more people would order snakes for delivery. Instead of finding Pirate Booty, they’d be making Pirate Poody.
The Precinct Press is authored by W.J. Butcher, a retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: email@example.com