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Billings crime and prevention center trying to prevent porch pirate thefts

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Posted at 4:41 PM, Dec 07, 2022

BILLINGS — Tis the season— for porch pirates.

With the holiday season here, many are sending gifts to loved ones. And if you’re worried about those packages being stolen off your property, the Billings Police Crime and Prevention Center has a solution that’ll give you peace of mind.

Elya Townsend of Billings watched her security camera footage on Nov. 28 as a man walked up and walked away with Christmas gift for her husband on her front porch.

"I posted it on the Facebook post, kind of wondering if any other people had gotten hit, and three other people said that they had the same gentleman come up to their porch and steal packages as well... He was wearing the same Billabong hoodie, same red Converse (shoes), army green pants and the black hoodie had the beanie pulled down with the mask," said Townsend.

And Billings police see it too.

"It's super easy to get on your phone, order a bunch of packages and then have them delivered to their residence. The only problem with that is that people work during the day generally and that’s when those packages are delivered. So, criminals, thieves kind of came into that and realized that, think about how easy it would be to go case a neighborhood and see what time the FedEx truck shows up," said Sgt. Nate West of the Billings Police Department.

Billings police don’t have exact numbers as to how many packages are stolen from doorsteps and mailboxes this time of year, but the thefts add up.

"It was a new Samsung 5 watch and was about $260," Townsend added.

Fortunately, there’s a solution, at least during the holiday season here in Billings.

"When you order a package online instead of putting your home address in, you put our address. It's 2910 Third Ave. North crime prevention center," added West.

For a second straight year, the Billings Police Department Crime Prevention Center is offering this space to store packages until they can be picked up.

"It still goes under your name but instead of that package getting delivered to your house and sitting out on your front steps for the taking. It’s delivered to our office. We secure it," West said.

A way to stop thieves in their tracks and to prevent what happened to Elya Townsend, from happening to others.

"I’m sure they’re just driving around looking for packages out on porches. They know everyone is at work during the day so it's primetime. He was at our house at about four in the afternoon," Townsend added.