Campbell police renewing program to track and catch package thieves

With cyber shopping on the increase, law enforcement officials say they're seeing a corresponding spike in package thefts.  It's a problem some Campbell residents are aware of.

"We're constantly buying things on line for him, and we're constantly thinking, ‘is it going to be at home, is it going to be there?’” said Nina Vatakina and her husband Moshe Zilversmit, as they completed each other's sentences.

The new parents say their shopping habits have changed since son Theo arrived three months ago. The worry over what could happen once an ordered package arrives also represents a new threat, according to Campbell police.

"It's just pure frustration over packages that are being stolen right off their front porch," said Campbell police captain Gary Berg. 

He shared surveillance video with KTVU showing a Grinch-like culprit casing a front porch, grabbing a package, and running off. Experts say these types of crimes escalate during the holidays, when cyber and physical shopping are at their peak. So for the second straight year, the department is launching its package bait program to catch would-be thieves.

"We're using this as an opportunity to remind would-be thieves that there are packages out there that contain GPS trackers," said Berg. “And we are watching.”

Once a package is stolen, a tracker leads police directly to the guilty party in minutes. To prevent thefts altogether, Campbell police advises having packages delivered to places where people can receive them. Additionally, ask for store delivery so you can pick-up in person. And lastly, ask the shipper for a specific delivery time, and require a signature for delivery. 

Officials say while surveillance cameras and the bait package programs may deter most criminals, the best deterrent is proactive residents. Vatkina says she and her family have already implemented at least one of these safety tips, as they learn to adjust to this new reality.

"Sometimes we ship things to my parent's house because it's a house that's a little easier to get to - my mom works from home sometimes," said Vatkina.

Experts suggest having a relative or friend that's home during the day and can collect deliveries before someone steals them. The thief in the surveillance video was not caught because it wasn't a bait package. If you recognize him, call Campbell police.