'Bait package' thwarts gift-stealing grinches

Sac PD uses bait packages to catch porch pirates (December 22, 2017)

Some of the top trending posts right now on the neighborhood app and website Nextdoor involve packages stolen from front porches.

But one case came with some sweet justice and a happy ending.

Package thefts happen in neighborhoods all across Sacramento. With online holiday shopping at an all-time high this year, there are plenty of presents for Grinches to target.

Sgt. Vance Chandler with Sacramento Police said the department's Bait Package Program helps deter and prevent such theft.

"We deploy bait packages throughout the whole city, and once those packages are taken from the areas where we place them, we get an activation that they're moving," he explained.

Chandler points to a holiday success story.

Early Friday morning, Sac PD officer Josh Smith, along with his K-9 Kai, responded to a moving bait package in the 4700 block of T Street.

"I don't appreciate when people take advantage of others," Smith told ABC10 News Friday evening.

Smith tracked the package to a man and a woman in a car.

"When we were talking to them at the window, we could see our bait package in plain view," he said, along with two other packages and the contents of a third.

The suspects were arrested.

Normally, police take stolen items in as evidence and return it to victims a few days later. In this case, however, there was no time for that.

"Because of the proximity to Christmas, we could've very easily booked the property, which meant that somebody would not have gotten their Christmas presents," Smith said, "so I made a suggestion that we not book them...we try to deliver them...so these people could have their Christmas presents delivered to the families. And that's what we did."

Smith played a Santa of sorts, returning the packages to the two victims' homes.

"And those items were for her grandchildren," he said, describing one of the victims' returned property.

So Grinches beware, that package you pilfer could land you in jail.

RELATED: Citrus Heights Police tackling holiday thefts through bait program

"It's a preventative measure, and we want the community to know that we're taking steps to ensure that we're trying to deter that crime," Chandler said.

Of course, police say, the best prevention starts on neighbors' end. If a package is coming, try and require a signature for delivery, or if you won't be home, have a neighbor keep an eye out for you.

RELATED: Package theft hits nearly one-third of Americans. Is video surveillance the answer?

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