Porch pirates are snatching more than your Christmas gifts this year

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The holiday season is here and as if things weren’t hectic enough, they are about to go up a notch.

Cities already tend to see an uptick in package thefts during the holiday season, but with the coronavirus pandemic causing online shopping and food ordering to skyrocket, it may be even worse this year.

People say they’re not just worried about porch pirates stealing their packages, but also their meals. Richmond native, Marquis Whitted, said he ordered food from a restaurant through Grub Hub on Wednesday. When he went to get his food from his front door — it wasn’t there.

“I received the notification that my food arrived,” Whitted said. “And to my surprise when I walked outside to get it, nothing was there.”

Whitted says he feels blessed to have a job and a roof over his head in the middle of a pandemic. But he wants to know what happens when someone is expecting to feed their family with that order.

“I ordered another meal from somewhere else but can everyone do that?,” he said. “People work hard every day to provide for their families. It’s not right for someone to take that away from them, especially around right around the holidays.”

Ashley Garlick is a part-owner of The Lily Pad off Brook Road in Henrico County. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)

Ashley Garlick, a part-owner of The Lily Pad off Brook Road in Henrico County, deals with all the food delivery businesses like GrubHub, Door Dash and UberEats every day.

She said the pandemic has turned life upside down for so many people across central Virginia but she says that doesn’t make it okay to steal.

“So much is going on in the world right now,” Garlick said. “But someone is expecting that food, someone has paid for that food.”

She said if a situation like Whitted’s happened to a customer at her business, she would ensure the customer that they would help fix the issue.

“I’ve had to call corporate for other reasons and I’m not oppose to doing it again if I had to,” said Garlick.

Richmond Police told our sister-station WRIC that package thefts have increased from the same period last year.

They’re concerned thefts will likely continue to rise at a rate higher than in previous years due to the pandemic.

However, RPD is hoping the public can help them in stopping the criminals.

“What we’re hoping is that neighbors talk to their neighbors and community groups and get out the word to people,” Richmond Police Department Lt. David Naoroz said. “If you can have your packages delivered to a lockbox — some of the delivery services offer lockbox services.”

Lt. Naoroz said doorbell cameras are also an option in keeping an eye on your package and the porch pirates.

“That will certainly notify you if somebody’s up on the porch, but then it doesn’t necessarily secure your package,” Lt. Naoroz said. “If any of that stuff is kind of witnessed or people see any of those suspicious activities, we really ask them to give us a call.”

And as for Whitted, he said although getting his food stolen wasn’t anything life or death, he wants the community to be aware that it’s happening.

“Look, there are more important things going on in the world right now, he said. “But I just want people to pay attention and stay vigilant when they are ordering anything to their homes.”

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