Teen caught on camera stealing package from Palm Bay home

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017, 6:15 PM EST

A bold theft in the middle of the day -- one teen is under arrest, but a Palm Bay family is still out one Christmas gift.

  • Teen caught on camera stealing package 
  • Homeowner had installed a security camera recently
  • One teen has been arrested

"We just bought it this weekend, and just installed it," homeowner Lilli Sonntag said of her family's new front porch security camera. "It was up for two days."

She didn't know the brand-new camera would be put to work so soon.

Just a couple of days after putting it up, it recorded something surprising around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.

A 14-year-old boy walked directly up to the front porch, cutting through the yard, as another male watched from closer to the street.

The teen covered the top of his head with a blue jacket, but you can still see his face.

"You can tell there's a camera there," said Sonntag. He was unaware the motion sensor camera had triggered.

"A text message comes up, and tells you there's movement at your front door," she said.

After bending down below camera view, he picked something up with his right hand.

It was a recently-delivered package, and he calmly walked back across the yard and tossed it to his friend. The pair then nonchalantly walked away around the corner.

"It was a gift for him, yeah," said Sonntag, speaking about her 9-year-old boy.

Now it's in the hands of a thief, instead of making its way under the Christmas Tree.

"Hopefully people can be more aware of what their kids are up to," she said.

Police say the stolen item hasn't been returned.

Protecting your holiday packages

Package theft has grown with online holiday shopping.

Community social networking site NextDoor said a 2016 survey showed 42 percent of neighbors experienced a package theft. Nearly half of those have had multiple packages stolen.

Every year, law enforcement agencies urge people to protect their packages by getting them delivered to your job or to a friend or neighbor.

You should also be sure to file a police report first before contacting the shipping company or the business that mailed the package. Even if police can't find your package, the report serves as another piece of evidence in recouping costs.

NextDoor says 67 percent of those surveyed would ask a neighbor for help with a package if they weren't home. The site suggested neighbors contact each other either in person or through NextDoor for help.

The site also suggests setting up a virtual neighborhood watch through the NextDoor website. Users can alert neighbors of packages stolen, and if they have surveillance video of the suspect they can upload it to the site and put neighbors on alert.

Other ways to protect your holiday packages include:

Take advantage of home delivery services. UPS has the UPS My Choice service. If you sign up for a free membership, you can get delivery alerts, sign for a package online, and even as that you hold a package at a UPS facility instead of having it delivered to your home. For additional money, you can get it delivered to another address. FedEx has a similar program with Delivery Manager.

USPS has the Package Intercept program. For a fee they will hold the package for pickup or you can have it sent to another address.

Have a security camera on your porch. This will help if your package is stolen so that police can catch the thief. Plus, if the package is damaged, you can use it as evidence against insurance.

Use signature confirmation. This way the package is not left out in the open because a signature is needed.