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Security camera catches thief in the act

Posted by Geeky Swedes on January 29th, 2010

A Ballardite who recently had packages stolen off their front porch sent us this email:

Our security camera recorded a woman stealing two packages off our front porch this past Tuesday. I’ve filed a police report but thought that it would be best to share the video as well. Here are some details:
– UPS delivered the packages at 2:25 PM, and the theft occurred at 2:43 PM, so the thief might have been trailing the delivery truck.
– The young woman in the video appears to be around 5’1″ to 5’3″ tall and took off in what appears to be a blue ’85-’89 Mazda 323 hatchback.

Package theft on 1/26 in Ballard from seattle vimeo user on Vimeo.

They got the motion-sensing camera last summer after they were hit last March while living in a different neighborhood. “I’m not a proponent of having cameras everywhere, but a camera aimed at our own porch/mailbox/entrance and part of our driveway seems reasonable to me.” (The person who emailed this to us asked that we not reveal the location of their home.)

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76 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Walt // Jan 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Now add a bright flash and a recorded voice offering prints.

  • 2 ballard206 // Jan 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Looks like this is probably what the car looks like:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mazd_323_hatc

  • 3 sipandshipsteve // Jan 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Have your packages delivered to Sip and Ship. We sign for your packages, call you when they arrive, and secure them in our store. If you've never used this service, your first package is free – after that there is a nominal receiving fee. I'd estimate the two packages in this video would have cost the receiver $4.00 or $5.00. We're also open 7 days a week.

  • 4 Meghan O'Connor // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Not to mention, that logo is a delivery from Amazon.com, easy to recognize by anyone seeing the box. And yes, Sip n Ship ROCKs.

  • 5 Fred // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    It's also easy to see that the woman has blonde hair even though she tries to hide her head from view.

  • 6 Anne // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    That looks like a woman to me, not a young man.

  • 7 Anne // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Guess it would help if I actually read the post more carefully huh? Don't know why I thought it said 'young man'…

  • 8 Steve // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Or they could go to mail boxes etc and get an unlimited number of packages delivered for a flat monthly fee. They guy at my MBE will even call me when something comes in and if I come in after hours he places the larger boxes in a locked area. He leaves me the key in my mailbox. I've never lost a package yet with him.

  • 9 Stephen Hulsizer // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    We lost three packages delivered by UPS about a year ago. One of the packages required a signature. The standards for delivery on the UPS website state that, in order to leave a package, the site must be out of the weather and out of sight. Our porch, like many others, is neither.

    Various sites indicate that UPS drivers leave packages with signature required without getting a signature; it is up to the driver. We now have a sign by the doorbell stating a signature is required for all deliveries. The UPS driver no longer leaves anything, neither does he attempt to ring the door bell or knock, just leaves a sticky note that I often find in the bushes because the adhesive is so poor. I think he prints the note before he comes to the door, without bothering to bring the package. Fed Ex ignores the sign. The postman uses the door bell and leaves a note if no answer.

    We avoid UPS and Fed EX if at all possible. US mail is cheaper, more reliable, and responsive.

  • 10 sipandshipsteve // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    That is if you rent a mailbox – you can do that with us as well, our rates are as low as $12.00 a month. The service I'm suggesting is for those who don't need a mailbox, and only receive the occasional package. Another option is to purchase the “signature required” add-on for all your packages – but if you're not home you'll have to deal with collecting your package from the UPS/FedEx sorting centers; or the post office.

  • 11 sp496761 // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Very clear video! I hope this perp is caught. I have had my mail stolen recently (right from my front door) and we are also installing cameras.

  • 12 Jennifer // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Yeah, the Sip and Ship has been the best in this regard. My packages are always safe and they call when they arrive. They have good open hours, and they are nice to boot! :)

    If you have a mailbox there, they collect all packages for you at no additional cost. It's been worth it to me. I definitely don't want to have to go find the UPS or FedEx offices to get my stuff.

  • 13 Jennifer // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Yeah, the Sip and Ship has been the best in this regard. My packages are always safe and they call when they arrive. They have good open hours, and they are nice to boot! :)

    If you have a mailbox there, they collect all packages for you at no additional cost. It's been worth it to me. I definitely don't want to have to go find the UPS or FedEx offices to get my stuff.

  • 14 Ole Clunker // Jan 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Sorry about this theft. What a nice clear video. Maybe you could recommend the brand or system you are using. Also, people posted a lot of messages about a female mail thief in the Greenwood area. They had the plate number and name of the person.

  • 15 Bark more, wag less // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Put a box out with packing foam peanuts and 3 cocked rat traps inside. The type that will break fingers. Don't put your address on the box; these are tweakers, they'll never find their way back to your house.

  • 16 jinx2 // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    ditto on the clarity of the video. wonder if the homeowner can give us the brand/model. that would be awesome. i've never had anything taken from our steps, but that video makes me want to get a video camera now. the nerve of some people… in daylight nonetheless!

  • 17 fiddler crab // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    glad the comments section turned into an advertising war!

  • 18 ballardmama1979 // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Sorry this happened you the family but great evidence! Nice quality video – what kind of camera was used? I like the idea of the motion sensor.

  • 19 kim // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    slow economy. free advertising!

  • 20 mzen // Jan 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Put a sign on your front porch that says “smile, you're on candid camera”

  • 21 Facebook User // Jan 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I too would love to know how you did your security setup! Great quality.

  • 22 ricecloudnine // Jan 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    They would probably steal the camera… :P

  • 23 bobloblaw // Jan 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    They will probably take the camera!

  • 24 gibinballard // Jan 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    If you have a web cam and a computer, you can make your own motion dection system using a free program. Here's a link.

    http://lifehacker.com/5233052/motion-detection-

  • 25 broadviewcoug // Jan 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Anyone notice the car in the refelction of the window!

  • 26 E // Jan 29, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    “The young woman in the video appears to be around 5′1″ to 5′3″ tall and took off in what appears to be a blue ‘85-’89 Mazda 323 hatchback.”

    Yes, they noticed.

  • 27 eas // Jan 29, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Is that the whole clip, or did you also get catch it as the car pulled up and stopped? Might be able to get the license of the car in the window reflection.

    For anyone else setting up one of these things, they generally record continuously to a “ring buffer” (where the latest video is always overwriting the oldest video), which lets them permanently save some amount of video both before and after the triggering event. This is a case where using a larger buffer might have provided information for identifying the suspect.

  • 28 Name // Jan 30, 2010 at 12:19 am

    heh heh, i like this idea.

  • 29 TheRaven // Jan 30, 2010 at 12:48 am

    There's scarcely anything to identify the thief. I suppose it's useful to to know when the packages were taken, though. Are the car's plates perhaps visible?

    BTW, I am deeply underwhelmed at the use of this forum for marketing.

  • 30 Chrispy // Jan 30, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Would you be so kind as to give us details of your camera setup? I'd like to set one up, myself, but they're expensive so I don't want to get junk. Your video is high quality!

  • 31 Kels // Jan 30, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Nice using someone's misfortune to advertise your business. Now I know where to never do business.

  • 32 opheliaslove // Jan 30, 2010 at 3:13 am

    this is so lame. i can't believe this is still happening. it's infuriating that someone would so blatantly steal off of their porch like that.

  • 33 facebook-785928407 // Jan 30, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Kels, I couldn't agree more. Very bad taste Steve.

  • 34 sipandshipsteve // Jan 30, 2010 at 6:20 am

    My apolgies to Kels, or anyone else I may have offended with my comments. My intention was to offer a possible solution to these crimes, as they have happened before; I think a similar crime was caught on tape last year and posted on MyBallard.

    ________________________________

  • 35 Name // Jan 30, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Sip and Ship sucks now that they don't let you bring your dog in anymore. Haven't been in since.

  • 36 stopgo // Jan 30, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Don't be silly sip and ship. I don't know why anyone would be offended by your comments…I really don't equate it to ambulance chasing or anything like that. You were just trying to help give a solution. I wouldn't worry about losing these loonies as customers. Probably more trouble than they are worth.

  • 37 stopgo // Jan 30, 2010 at 7:17 am

    I applaud their efforts to keep animals out of the store. Gawd forbid you have to leave your animal outside a store!? They aren't operating a kennel, plus they serve food and drinks there, and as surprising as it sounds, there are rules about allowing animals around food serving facilities and it can cost the owners $$$ to break the rules. not to mention how unsanitary it is. tie the dog up, or better yet leave it at home, or EVEN better yet, good luck finding a 'pet friendly' post office/coffee shop.

  • 38 stopgo // Jan 30, 2010 at 7:20 am

    well, the residents really have not been pushing to improve the neighborhood and keep it safe. As a result, we'll see this thing increase.

  • 39 ninaf // Jan 30, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I am very glad to have the cameras around our house.

  • 40 kitty cat // Jan 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Can you stop selling those lame Ballard t-shirts? It's a little too emo/hipster.

    Thank you.

  • 41 MarkyMark // Jan 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I had the exact same thing happen several years ago, only it was about 2 minutes flat after a UPS delivery. I was working in my home office when I heard the UPS guy walk by outside the window and drop an expected package at my side door. Couple of minutes later I hear steps quickly coming and going again, which was VERY odd. I peeked through the blinds and saw the back of a guy carrying the package away, who jumped into an unmarked landscaper's pickup and took off. The joke on him was that the package contained a couple of cheap glass citrus juicers that I was going to give as presents; I wasn't out much and it would have been worth the cost to see the look on his face when he opened it!

  • 42 Stopop // Jan 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    So Stopgo are you the owner of Sip and Ship or do you just work there?

  • 43 stopgo // Jan 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Neither. But I do think the guy who posted above 'Sip and Ship' might have something to do with the store. I've only been in sip and ship a few times to mail a package. If I stopped in to get a cup of coffee, I would not be happy to see an animal running around the store. Unsanitary.

  • 44 AMJRAL // Jan 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    this could easily be a toyota tercel hatchback as well:
    http://images.google.com/images?client=safari&r

  • 45 John // Jan 30, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    About 2 weeks ago, we had a UPS package ripped open on our front porch with its contents laid out. They were text books for my gf's grad school classes, so i guess they weren't desirable. They also stole a package that was delivered the same day from USPS, which was a vinyl record. We only realized they stole the record bc the packaging was ripped open and in our yard. We figured it was trash, but then realized what had happened.

    I sent this report to My Ballard when it happened, but it was never posted. Probably figured it was a one-off deal, but interesting to see it's a neighborhood serial problem.

  • 46 Ole Clunker // Jan 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    This problem was reported several times on the Phinneywood blog. Homes around the Sandel park were having problems with a mail thief. A woman was seen taking mail and her license plate was reported to the SPD. I never heard if she was caught or not. Lot of car break-ins happening in the same area.

  • 47 ballard206 // Jan 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Here's the camera I used. I've been very happy with it:
    http://amzn.com/B001P4UTLK

    Here are a few additional details:

    - Yes, I could have placed the camera in a position that would have better picked up the thief's face, but I don't want to pick up the sidewalk, etc. and intrude on our neighbors' privacy. Regardless, there's some peace-of-mind value for us to know how the theft went down, even if it doesn't lead to an arrest.

    - The contents included cat urine neutralizer and a box of 350 assorted washers. Not much of a score for the thief. ;)

    - Amazon.com refunded the order.

  • 48 kqx // Jan 30, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Ballard is a little too emo/hipster. I think the shirts are great.

  • 49 michaelbanovsky // Jan 31, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I don't think it's a Mazda 323. More likely, it's a 1987-ish Hyundai Excel. We have a thread going at Jalopnik.com: http://jalopnik.com/5460436/identify-this-myste

    Good luck, M!

  • 50 OwlsInsomnia // Jan 31, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Kels, I must say that if you knew Steve, you'd know that he's a good-hearted man who puts people before his business. My experience has been that he uses his business in service of others as much as to earn a living. I see where you're coming from, but in this case, I think his intentions were misunderstood. And if you don't believe me, stop in and meet him in person.

  • 51 nickbentley // Jan 31, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Jalopnik has a thread for car lovers and they have some good opinions on the type of car it is. I also posted some enhanced screenshots to help them whittle down the year of the car at

    http://jalopnik.com/5460436/identify-this-myste

    It's really simple though, if she hasn't been caught yet just put out some bait for the next try. Maybe a big box with a GPS unit in it that will also give her route of other homes she's swiping stuff from.

  • 52 aptgal // Jan 31, 2010 at 3:58 am

    I like those t-shirts. Shut up.

  • 53 ballardsnowhite // Jan 31, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Over the last 3 years of living in Ballard I had smaller packages delivered to my house. It wasn't until this past Christmas when I had cleaning supplies (they no longer sold the scent I really liked locally) from Drugstore.com.

    The delivery came on a day where I did not come home until very late in the evening. When I was wondering a week or so after the order I checked the delivery status to find out it had been delivered the day I was out late.

    Unfortunate. I mentioned it to my block watch email list to inform the neighbors and asked our police liaison if I I should file a report. He said only if it happens again.

    The order got replaced at no charge (they must get this a lot). Instead of getting it delivered to home I had them ship it to work. Not my first choice but it does not cost anything aside from me having my hands full on the bus ride home.

  • 54 Chris // Jan 31, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I don't recognize this person but hope that this video gets full coverage on the local news.

    My neighbors on Beacon Hill and I have been discussing video cameras and would be very interested in finding out what type of security camera and motion sensing device the person installed. The picture was very good and the instant notification would be great for immediately calling the police.

  • 55 Zuke // Feb 1, 2010 at 6:51 am

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=5910+22nd+Ave+NW,…

    Maybe this will help? Don't know where the original theft is, but this car is right in the neighborhood.

    In case the link doesn't work, just use Google Maps and StreetView. Go to 5910 22nd Ave NW, Seattle, WA

  • 56 Barney Stinson // Feb 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    No, its not.

  • 57 Barney Stinson // Feb 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Its a DOG. Not a human being. Keep them away from food and drinks. They have no business being in there. People like you are a pain the arse to the rest of us.

  • 58 LoyalG // Feb 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    We had the same thing happen at our home in Loyal Heights last year a number of times. One time I had a pair of shoes delivered and the theif took the package, then returned it a week later with only the box seam (tape) slit open with a knife so they could peek in. Strange behavior for a theif.

    So I set up a camera as well and tried to capture any other events but didnt get anthing. I am very leary now cause it seems to be a common occurance. I have started having anything important sent to The Mailbox on 24th & 80th – they charge a few bucks to recieve packages. But that is a shame, feels like the neighborhood is getting looted in many ways.

    A while back, we had a BBQ party in our back yard and a cooler of beer and soada was taken over night. I also often find empty tequilla bottles (always the same Jose Quervo) in our recycling in our alley. Strange things. We need to band together and watch for these losers, making me feel afrad for my wife and daughter. Time to start pushing back…

  • 59 LoyalG // Feb 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    By the way, if anyone is interested in a low-budget solution, I used a program called SurveillCam (cannot find the link now) but was a free shareware for PC. It just uses a standard USB web cam and you can set it for motion activation. I then set the web cam in the window pointing at my front yard and anytime someone enetered the scene it would start recording. At the end of the day when I got home Id check and tere would be 2 minutes or so of total activity during the day, cars driving by, mail man coming and going, people walking their dogs. Very interesting to see a compressed view of what happens at your place when your not there! Unfortunately I never caught the theivs stealing from our front door.

    You can find a lot of free or nearly free options for things like that here: http://download.cnet.com/SupervisionCam/3000-13
    Hope that helps!

  • 60 kqx // Feb 1, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I'd expect a snappier comeback from Barney Stinson than “no it's not.” Plus, you live in NYC, so what would you know about Ballard?

  • 61 MMMnM // Feb 1, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    The same thing happened on my street (7th Ave NW ) in December. I was hanging Christmas lights on my tree outside and saw a woman go to my neighbor's house and picked up her package at the door. I confronted the woman and asked her what she was doing and she said she was “dropping off a package to her friend”. I knew she was lying and asked her what her friend's name was and she got aggitated and tried to walk past me with the package hidden under her arm. I don't know what came over me, but I grabbed the package from her and went inside my home. I immediately called the police and she drove off in the same type of car indicated in this article. There was also a man in the passenger seat completely reclined like he didn't want to be seen. She sped away with her lights off (and the street lights on our block are not working properly) so I was not able to get a good look at her license plate. I did see that this person had a child's sunscreen attached to the back left side window. Sad to think this person has a child too. I talked to the UPS driver the next day and he said he would try to be better about “hiding” packages. It makes me angry that we all work hard for what we have and this person feels its okay to just take what is not hers!!! I hope they catch this pathetic person!!!

  • 62 Ray // Feb 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    I love that a LOCAL BALLARD BUSINESS has simply stated that they have a potential solution for the victim, and a few people find it “distasteful.”

    Give me a break.

    For all the talk about supporting local businesses that goes on in the neighborhood and on the blog, I would think that people would support this kind of thing. It's not like the “advertisement” and the post are unrelated.

  • 63 SPG // Feb 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I love dogs. Absolutely love them. BUT, I don't think it's a good idea to have dogs around food. Keep 'em outside.

  • 64 SPG // Feb 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    That's a Ford Escort.

  • 65 mailboss // Feb 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Wow, this is so blatant. Good for getting them on video! I hope the police really go forward with investigating this, though I wouldn't get my hopes up!

    Do you mind if we share this story on our blog: http://www.mailboss.net/resources

    We blog about mail identity theft in the area and advocate the use of a high security locking mailbox to secure your mail and protect your identity. We also have a “package master” to protect packages, but unfortunately it is not large enough to accommodate packages of this size.

  • 66 mailboss // Feb 1, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    You might want to try a WALL MOUNT locking mailbox. Lots of people think if their mail is delivered to a mailbox on their house it is safe, but these thieves are pretty brazen and will stop at nothing to get your personal info for ID theft. Ace Hardware and True Value carry our Mail Boss wall mount, which can't be fished or pried open. There may be some other good options online as well, but make sure it has more than a “popcorn” lock on it… also, what to do if your mail is stolen: http://www.mailboss.net/what-to-do-if-your-mail… … for the future…

  • 67 BH // Feb 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

    “I also often find empty tequilla bottles (always the same Jose Quervo) in our recycling in our alley. “

    The horrors!! We must find these rogue recyclers and bring them to justice forthwith!

  • 68 blueben // Feb 2, 2010 at 7:38 am

    As opposed to all of those incredibly clean humans who never sneeze on their hands, pick up something dirty, or get crud under their fingernails running around.

  • 69 Bronze950 // Feb 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Excellent video quality, what kind of camera is it?

  • 70 atworkcat // Feb 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I'm one of those nutty take-my-dog-everywhere kind of people, and I visit the Sip & Ship often, for both mail and coffee needs. I noticed when they stopped allowing dogs inside, but my dog is happy to sit outside and wait for a “cookie” that they very sweetly leave in a jar by the coffee accessories. I like the environment at the Sip & Ship, but I will agree with you that when they changed the rule about allowing dogs, the store is less pleasant, and here's why:

    They inserted seating for their coffee shop customers and this reduced the amount of merchandise they could display. They used to have twice as many cards, and many of those were purchase-worthy, and they had interesting gift items I liked to get for friends. Yes, they still have some interesting gift items, but not nearly as many, and so I can breeze through and decide there's nothing interesting to buy fairly quickly before heading out with my coffee to give my pup his treat.

    I very much used to enjoy spending some time browsing there, with or without my dog. And THAT is why I agree that it's not as good now that dogs aren't allowed, not because the dogs aren't allowed.

  • 71 Steeliedan5150 // Feb 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I just spent 2500.00 on a motion tracking camera that covers my front property. The dome is visable to everyone and it is a must! I live in orting wa and our wooded residential house’s have been robbed in broad daylight by local scum and I believe a visable camera is a great deterrant. If they are dumb enough to show their vehical and or face, ya just print a picture and go door to door until you find out who it is. We do not wait for the police to just write a report. We take the law into our own hands in the country. Theift will be on the rise with this messed up economy and you have to be your own judge and jury. It is kind of sad to say but the cops can’t do a thing but reports. Theft is so rampid they evan show up shrugging their shoulders when your front door is hanging in half. The truth.

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