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June 22, 2024

Doorbell camera captures two thieves jockeying for same package at Berks County home

A FedEx delivery driver had just dropped the box off in Lower Heidelberg when two men raced from their cars to steal it.

Investigations Theft
Package Theft Pennsylvania Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Two suspects are wanted in Lower Heidelberg Township, Berks County, after a doorbell camera video showed them vying to steal a package that a delivery driver dropped off at a home. One of the suspects got away with the parcel.

Police are investigating a bizarre package theft that happened Wednesday in Lower Heidelberg Township, where a doorbell camera showed two men race to steal the box just moments after a FedEx delivery driver left it outside a home.

The video comes from a house in the small Berks County community about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The delivery driver is seen placing the package on the home's front landing. Within seconds, two men spring from separate cars on the street outside the house and rush to get to the package. One of the men leaps over a hedge, but the other is able to grab the box first after a brief tussle. The empty-handed man then scoops up a flower pot, seemingly to defend himself, before both porch pirates run back to their cars.

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Kevin Lara, the man who posted the video on Facebook, said the stolen package contained cell phones he had ordered from AT&T.

Just had a very expensive package stolen as soon as it got delivered from AT&T. Poor fedex driver looks scared. Not really worried about the phones… but what if this guy would have hurt one of my family members…. Is this really what the world has come to? Also how did they find out these phones were being delivered. Something fishy is going on here.

Posted by Kevin Lara on Tuesday, June 18, 2024

"Poor FedEx driver looks scared," Lara wrote. "Not really worried about the phones… but what if this guy would have hurt one of my family members…. Is this really what the world has come to? Also how did they find out these phones were being delivered? Something fishy is going on here."

Lower Heidelberg Township Police Chief Chris Stouch told Allentown's WFMZ-TV that police are working to identify the two suspects.

"To have these two scumbags come into our community and get into a potentially deadly altercation over stealing a package is unbelievable and I really look forward to catching and apprehending these guys because I want to make an example of them," said Stouch.

Police said doorbell cameras are helpful in package theft investigations, but they often don't provide clear enough footage to identify suspects. In the incident on Wednesday, the man who escaped with the package appeared to be wearing a mask. 

Porch piracy has increased sharply in the U.S. with the rise of online shopping, a trend that accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 119 million packages were stolen nationwide last year, totaling $13.4 billion in lost goods, according to Capital One Shopping research. The year before — when an estimated 260 million packages were stolen – about eight in ten Americans were victims of porch piracy, Forbes reported.

Last December, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro signed a law increasing penalties for package thefts, especially among repeat offenders. People with more than three offenses and those who steal items valued at $2,000 or higher can now be charged with third-degree felonies.

In Philadelphia, where package and mail thefts also have been rising in recent years, residents have increasingly turned to private mailbox services to ensure their deliveries can be collected securely.

Some police departments have begun using GPS tracking devices to help catch porch pirates, luring them with "bait" packages that allow investigators to follow thieves who may be repeat offenders. 

The incident in Berks County happened just weeks after another doorbell camera video went viral when a package thief  was seen swiping a box at home in Columbus, Ohio right after a delivery driver put it outside a home. Thefts that happen in this manner have raised questions about whether thieves are targeting homes by following delivery trucks or if they are obtaining tracking information enabling them to stake out properties where valuables are being shipped.