SAN JOSE, Calif. — These package theft victims caught perpetrators on camera, then posted the thieves on YouTube in hopes someone will recognize the casual criminals.
The act is so smooth and familiar it could be the man's job: a thief strolls with his hands in pockets to the front porch of a Communications Hill townhouse, scoops up a trio of packages and— just as casually— returns to his waiting SUV and drives away.
In another case, a woman with a forearm brace and a floral-print shirt saunters up the path to a Willow Glen home with an empty shopping bag, then fills it with a recently delivered box and walks back down path as cars whiz by.
Both wore sunglasses and committed the crimes in broad daylight, and both were caught on video by residents who then made the footage public in hopes of someone recognizing the culprit.
“It's the Grinch stealing people's Christmas,” said Cheryl Mannix-Smith, who is recovering from breast cancer and is homebound as she goes through chemotherapy.
She had bought a North Face goose down jacket as a present for herself, and was eagerly anticipating the delivery. But nobody rang her doorbell, and it was quickly swiped from her porch.
“It's a very nice, warm brown jacket,” she said, “and now all I can see is this man running off and giving it away to someone else.”
While she said the company was kind enough to replace her loss, she didn't know what was in the other boxes that had been dropped off at the porch she shares with two other townhouses. But given the season, she reasoned they might have been presents as well.
In the other case, a couple living on Norval Way posted their package snatcher on YouTube in hopes the nonchalant thief might be identified. They told reporters the take was indeed Christmas toys for their children.
“In these type of theft-related cases, this can certainly assist with the investigation,” said San Jose police spokesman Officer Albert Morales. “Detectives need an identification or information on the suspect's whereabouts to aide in apprehending the suspect.”
The busy shipping season has brought out package thieves in other parts of the country as well. On Tuesday, authorities in Albuquerque, N.M. told reporters several residents had packages stolen from the end of the driveway.
Mannix-Smith said additional video showed the thief's green Jeep Cherokee drive past her home, then make a U-turn and park right after a pair of deliveries was made. While she filed a police report and showed detectives the video, the license plate on the SUV wasn't clear enough to make out.
But the video — taken by a neighbor's camera — has “a pretty good shot of the guy,” she said.
“My idea of putting it out to the news is to get the guy's mug out there so someone might see it and say, 'That's so-and-so!” she said.