Holland police nab suspected porch pirate caught on camera

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — An officer in the right place at the right time is being credited with helping track down a teenager suspected of swiping packages off numerous porches in Holland.

Since Dec. 1, Holland residents have reported nine porch package thefts, mostly on the southwest side of the city. Detectives with the Holland Department of Public Safety believe the teen they caught is responsible for most of the thefts, according to Capt. Keith Mulder.

Detectives were able to connect some of the crimes based on home security camera footage of the suspect and vehicle – a black pickup truck.

Holland DPS shared doorbell surveillance video of one of the thefts on Facebook, hoping to churn up leads from the community. But the break in the case ultimately came from an officer who spotted a black pickup truck that matched the one depicted in the footage.

Further investigation led detectives to the driver – a 16-year-old boy from Holland. Mulder says when the teen was interviewed by police, he admitted to a “bunch” of the package thefts.

The 16-year-old’s case has been referred to the juvenile probate court for charges.

PORCH PIRATE SPIKE IN GRAND RAPIDS

Holland is not alone in an uptick in package thefts. Grand Rapids police say during the holiday season, they’re notified of seven to 10 porch package thefts a week – roughly triple the number of similar complaints during the rest of the year.

Sgt. John Wittkowski says officers tracked down and arrested one suspect on Dec. 18, but it’s unclear how many others may be responsible.

Detectives say about 80% of the porch package thefts in Grand Rapids are crimes of opportunity, where the thieves spot a delivery that is easy to steal without being caught. Police encourage online shoppers to think carefully about when and where they have their packages delivered to curb the crimes, since many stores let customers pick the time and place for their delivery.

Wittkowski says while doorbell security cameras help detectives crack some of these cases, not enough people have them to make them a steadfast tool to solving crimes.