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Police Pounce on Prolific Porch Pirate

A 36-year-old man is behind bars after police say they caught him red-handed in the act of stealing packages.

The Springfield, Va. resident was in the Crystal City area, on the 300 block of 23rd Street S., when police say they spotted him “concealing alleged stolen packages” while returning to “a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27.”

The man is now facing a burglary-related charge and four counts of petty larceny. Additional charges “are anticipated” and police are “working to identify and notify victims,” according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.

ACPD is asking Arlington residents to remain vigilant about so-called porch pirates, as a rise in e-commerce during the pandemic leads to more package thefts. The department is encouraging residents to take in packages as soon as possible after they arrive, or to use options like lockers or in-store pick up if they’re not going to be home during the delivery.

The full press release is below, after the jump.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect in a package theft series. Haroon Cheema, 36, of Springfield, VA, was arrested and charged with Possession of Burglarious Tools and Petit Larceny (x4). Additional charges are anticipated. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on a secure bond.

At approximately 1:10 p.m. on January 3, a patrol officer observed an unoccupied vehicle with no license plates parked the 300 block of 23rd Street S. The vehicle matched the description of a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27, 2020. A short time later, the officer observed the suspect return to the vehicle with a bag concealing alleged stolen packages. The suspect drove a short distance and was detained by officers as he exited the vehicle. During the execution of a subsequent search warrant on the vehicle, additional packages were located. Detectives are working to identify and notify victims.

Safety Tips and Crime Prevention Measures

Package thefts are often crimes of opportunity with suspects targeting items left unattended or out in plain view. While these crimes are often associated with the holiday season, they can happen at any time. The Arlington County Police Department encourages online shoppers to think ahead about delivery options and follow the below safety tips to help reduce the opportunity for package theft:

  • Schedule packages to arrive when you are home and track their progress during shipment
  • Bring packages inside as soon as possible after delivery
  • Have someone you trust accept the package if you will not be home during delivery
  • Require signature on delivery
  • Utilize other delivery options such as lockers or in-store pick up
  • Reschedule delivery or ask for a package hold when on vacation

Report Package Thefts to Police

If you have been the victim of a package theft in Arlington County, report to police using the online crime report.

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