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Nkoyo Iyamba, KSL-TV

Utah neighborhood uses decoy packages to deter thieves

By Nkoyo Iyamba   |  Posted Dec 12th, 2015 @ 6:50pm


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SOUTH JORDAN — Residents in the Daybreak community hope placing fake packages on their front porches will deter thieves.

Kroger Menzer is a realtor, so he's quite familiar with his Daybreak community.

"This is a very tight-knit community," said Menzer. "Even though there are 4,000 homes and 15,000 people living here, we all get to know each other pretty well."

Menzer also knows his neighbors are getting fed up with thieves stealing packages from their front porches. And while they have surveillance videos, they're not relying on them to stop those stealing packages.

"That's how we got this idea," he said. The idea he's referring to is to place fake packages on porches. The boxes have Amazon labels on them. "Some old TVs are going to end up in the boxes and some rocks."

Menzer said the idea was the brainchild of one of his neighbors, who posted it to the Daybreak Residents' Facebook page.

"When Jeff came up with the idea, it spread like wildfire. The post spread to Riverton and Herriman," he said. "That's why this is going to work, because it's not just a half dozen homes doing it. It's a whole community."

Menzer said some residents are tracking the devices to catch thieves, and others are looking at this tactic in an altruistic way.

"Some people are looking at the folks that are doing this and saying, 'Well, maybe they just need a leg up,'" he said. "'So let's put some of our clothes that we don't need any more, and maybe they'll find their way into the hands of the people that need them.'"

Some Utah law enforcement officials prefer residents leave the crime fighting to police.

"It's a crime that only takes about 15 or 20 seconds," explained Lt. John Barker of the Unified Police Department. "To jump out of a car in front of a residence and run up, grab the package off the porch and they're gone."

Barker also said anything can happen, especially when you catch a thief in the act, "and if you're by yourself, you're probably not going to win that battle."

Instead, police prefer residents use surveillance videos to catch package thieves.

Residents in the Daybreak community hope placing fake packages on their front porches will deter thieves. (Photo: Nkoyo Iyamba)

"If it's a good system, they can get some very good pictures," said Barker. "If you can get the car, and especially the license plate, that's very helpful in tracking these individuals down."

It's not that residents in Daybreak don't trust the police there to do their job, said Menzer.

"They can't be everywhere all the time," he said, adding that residents just want to do their part.

"The goal isn't to catch them in the act, that's for the police," said Menzer. "The goal is to make it confusing and frustrating. So they come and steal a box, and they get home and it's a bunch of rocks, there's a good chance that they're probably not going to come back to steal another box."

In the meantime, police still recommend one sure way of not getting packages stolen — pick them up at package service locations.

"It's a little more work on your part," said Barker. "But at least you'll get your package instead of wondering where it went."

Barker also said that residents can work with their police departments to place tracking devices in packages, but "they're expensive for police departments, and there aren't a lot of them," he said. "But it's also a hit or miss game. You could leave it on your porch, and it might sit there for two days, and nobody will disturb it."

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