Package delivery increases around the holidays. Some individuals are ordering products online to give to friends and family, or an out-of-state relative sends a present through the mail. Thieves are aware of the increase in package delivery and also know that many people will be out of town for the holidays. However, some police departments will be using bait packages to catch anyone who picks up a package meant for someone else.
The Campbell Police Department in Santa Clara County has announced they will be delivering decoy packages throughout the city. The packages will have items inside with GPS tracking devices. After someone picks up the package, police will be notified, and track the whereabouts of the package and the person who took the package. However, tracking packages by GPS without evidence of who took the package may result in the wrong person getting arrested for theft.
“We had some issues last year with package thefts, especially around the holidays,” said Police Captain Gary Berg. “We decided to take a proactive approach this year.”
The department has said the packages will be designed to look like other packages that may be delivered by UPS, the Postal Service, or Amazon. However, police have not said where or when the packages would be delivered. Other businesses are also involved in placing the packages, to prevent individuals from noticing the packages are being tracked by the police.
Other California cities have similar bait package tracking operations planned for the holidays. These programs are similar to programs to track bike theft. For years, the police have left bikes unattended in areas with reported bike theft. When the bike is taken, the police track the bike with a hidden GPS device and confront the person with the stolen bike.
Penalties for package theft may depend on the value of the packages involved. Under the California Penal Code, theft of property valued at $950 or less is considered petty theft, which is generally treated as a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Property valued at $950 or more is considered grand theft, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case. If caught for taking multiple packages, the retail value can easily add up to more than $950.
In the interest of home security, more residents are installing security cameras, including doorbell video systems. These systems can now provide high quality video evidence at lower cost. When residents find that someone has taken a package from their house, they may turn over the video and photo footage to the police. In some cases, the police will then ask the public for help identifying the suspects, showing the video all over local TV news channels.
Individuals are urged to have packages delivered to a location where a person will be available to receive it, including having a package delivered to a workplace instead of a residence if no one will be home.
If you charged with misdemeanor or felony theft charge, you can still fight to avoid prison time. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending individuals charged with criminal offenses in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a theft conviction can affect your future. If you are facing a conviction, contact the local East Bay criminal defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.