Sunday, November 30, 2014

DOORBUSTERS: Package Thieves And Burglars Are Psyched For Cyber Monday

He brought a big sack and he handles packages, but he isn't Santa.
"Cyber Monday" is here and our neighborhood's prolific package thieves and burglars are already on the job.

At least three residents reported having their homes burglarized this morning—including one whose U.S. Army medals were stolen and dumped in a nearby alley.

On the package theft front, things are definitely kicking into high gear:

On Friday, a UPS driver called cops after a man tried to steal packages from him in the 800 block of Aldine. Just a few hours earlier, a man was seen stealing a package of "baby items" from a home in the 3200 block of Kenmore.

The Kenmore suspect is described as male, black, 6'1" tall, wearing a green jacket over a gray hoodie.

And a CWB reader told us on Twitter that three courtyard tenants were victimized by a package thief in the 900 block of Cornelia.

Another reader emailed us to report having two packages stolen from his building lobby over the course of a few days.  "It has been quite some time since we have had any issues with stolen packages," he wrote, "and this is just a notice to for everyone to keep and eye out during the day." Good advice. See some recommendations from the CPD at the end of our story.

Mystery Guests

Sneaky package thieves are being joined by their bolder big brothers: residential burglars and shoplifting crews. Among the reports that we're aware of this week:

A burglar pried open a bathroom window in the 3400 block of Janssen on Tuesday and made off with "a bunch of jewelry, a laptop, digital camera, food, and wine."  Bon app├ętit, assmunch.

Wednesday afternoon, three shoplifters raided Uncle Dan's sporting goods, 3551 Southport, and ran out with $1,400 worth of clothes. They escaped in a black Kia with no license plate. Witnesses say two black women and one black man were involved.

Saturday morning, a resident of the 3300 block of Southport found her apartment burglarized. Among the items taken were an Easton baseball bag filled with sports equipment.

Already today, at least three more break-ins have been reported:

  • A man found his apartment had been forcibly broken into early this morning in the 3400 block of Elaine Place.
  • Another apartment was burglarized in the 1000 block of Irving Park Road. There, a U.S. Army-issued duffel bag filled with "government-issued clothing" was stolen. A police officer found some of the victim's military medals strewn about the alley.
  • And the most recent report came from the 3200 block of Seminary around 7:30 today. There, the victim's apartment was also entered by an offender using force.

What To Do?

19th district officers arrest an alleged package thief
after a sting operation earlier this year.
Online shopping is a convenience for shoppers and thieves. Among the steps police recommend taking to avoid having your packages stolen:

  • Require a signature upon receipt
  • Schedule delivery for a day that you know you will be home
  • Have the package delivered to your work address or to the courier's pick-up station rather than your home.
  • Never buzz anyone into your building unless you know exactly who they are.
  • Never let anyone follow you into your building unless you know exactly who they are. A polite approach: Tell them you don't have your keys and let them open the door.
  • Some package thieves operate by following courier trucks around and immediately stealing packages upon drop-off. The longer your packages sit, the more likely they are to be taken.

Burglarizing homes is particularly popular during the holidays because criminals know many homes will have valuable, easy-to-locate gifts inside. Suggestions:

  • We're all jealous of your bitchin' Christmas tree. You're the best. Now, close the curtains and stop showing off. You're only advertising the fact that there are goodies inside and, most likely, they're right there by that lighthouse-sized tree. Plus, if you can afford to spend that much money on a tree, you almost certainly blow money on other expensive toys.
  • Always lock your doors and windows—even if you're on the second floor.
  • If you live in a single-family home or small flat, ensure that the front and back areas are shoveled after snow falls. The lack of footprints in snow tells burglars that the home is probably not occupied.

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