The Santa Maria Police Department is trying to prevent porch piracy, a crime that always seems to be in the news during the holiday season.
The three-man Community Service Unit is actively patrolling the city looking for would-be-thieves that steal packages delivered to residences.
“It’s to target and do some preventative (policing) and see if we can apprehend the people out stealing Christmas packages,” said Officer Dave Culver. “We want to find the people that are trying to ruin people’s Christmas.”
The operation goes out into the community on select days and coordinates with delivery services and their drivers.
“What we’re doing is locate UPS, FedEx, or U.S. Postal drivers that are making deliveries,” said Culver. “We’re out in a marked unit and an undercover vehicle trying to watch those packages as they get dropped off, see if anybody comes by and tries to snag them off the porch.”
So far this month, the operation has not caught a porch pirate stealing a package in the act, which Culver said is a positive.
He added that while the police department hasn’t seen a surge of porch piracy this year, it is crime that is happening in Santa Maria.
“It’s a matter of continuing to be out here because we know it is happening and we’re doing what we can to get ahead of it before happens,” said Culver.
The idea of the operation is for the department to be proactive in an effort to stop the crime before it begins.
It’s a main component of the Community Service Unit.
“We’re trying to address these issues that we see happening and something that we want to try and put some extra effort towards,” said Culver. “(We) get out in the neighborhoods and make this preventative impact and stop this from occurring.”
During the porch pirate patrol, officers will speak with deliver drivers to collect valuable information.
“Part of the operation is getting out and about and talking to the UPS, talking to our FedEx drivers and seeing if they’re seeing any issues anywhere and then identifying those areas that we need to do some extra patrol in,” said Culver.
The porch pirate operation will continue over the next few days as the countdown to Christmas winds down.
“An increase in packages and more deliveries are going to be out there and we’re going to be out there too,” said Culver. “There’s going to be more emphasis on this leading up until Christmas because there’s more of a potential and we want to do what we can to fix that.”
Culver wants any potential porch pirate to be aware of this effort and to think twice before committing the crime.
“We are watching,” said Culver. “If you’re somebody that thinks this is an easy opportunity, it’s not. We’re out here and we’re patrolling and we’re watching and we’re looking it. If you make that decision, we’re going to use every investigative means at our disposal to track you down.”