Providence man asks for public’s help catching porch pirate


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When Williams Etim asked his landlord to check his surveillance system after a package he was expecting didn’t arrive, he was shocked by what he saw.

The package, which contained a Christmas gift, had arrived on time and was sitting on the front porch — until a man walking down the street picked it up and took off with it.

Courtesy of Williams Etim

Etim called it a frustrating situation.

“That’s my money,” he said. “It’s not like I borrowed it, or got it for free. It’s not right for someone to pick up a package that isn’t theirs.”

Etim said he ordered the package from Walmart back in November and was expecting it to arrive the day before Thanksgiving.

“Whenever a package arrives, it stays there until I pick it up or my neighbors bring it in — if they’re there,” he said.

Etim said he’s usually at work when packages are delivered, and his neighbors were away for Thanksgiving. He assumed Walmart was behind on deliveries because of the holiday.

But several weeks passed, and the package still didn’t arrive.

That’s when he remembered his landlord had a security camera aimed at the front door.

Courtesy of Williams Etim

The surveillance footage showed a man wearing a gray winter jacket walking by with a woman. After walking by the building, the man returned to the porch and took the package.

Etim said he reported the theft to the police but hopes the thief just does the right thing.

“It’s wrong to take what doesn’t belong to you,” Etim said. “If you don’t want to bring it to me, just bring it to Walmart and drop it there, but the person should change his ways.”

With the holiday season already in full swing, Etim said he wanted to make sure the community was aware of the incident — with the hope of preventing it from happening to someone else.

“I think people should be conscious of the environment,” Etim said. “If you see strange movements or a random person just walking up to somebody’s porch, I think people should be able to help out their neighbors,” he added.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that nearly 26 million Americans have had holiday packages stolen from their front porch or doorstep.

The BBB offered the following tips for those expecting packages in the mail this holiday season:

  • Don’t leave delivered packages unattended. You wouldn’t leave $500 sitting outside your house overnight, so don’t leave your packages unattended for long periods of time.
  • Pay attention to online tracking. If the company says it was delivered but it’s not at your house, report it. For extra security, use motion-detecting lights and camera systems to fend off would-be thieves.
  • Leaving town? Have your mail held at the post office. Once you return, you can pick everything up or request it be delivered to your home.
  • Customize the delivery. If you know the package is going to be larger than the mailbox, authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified out-of-sight location. You can also request pick-up at their facility.
  • Secure the shipment. Signature confirmations ensure that the package ends up in the right hands. Register your most valuable packages so special care and documentation are used every step of the way.
  • Ship your packages to where you are, not where you aren’t. Spend all day at work? Talk to your boss about having packages delivered to your workplace instead of your home address.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Some thieves follow delivery trucks waiting for the opportune time to steal packages. If you notice something out of place in your neighborhood, report it to the proper authorities with specific details. You can also plan with neighbors to move any packages inside their home for safekeeping until you arrive home at night.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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