Caught on Camera: Thieves take bait and swipe phony packages - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Caught on Camera: Thieves take bait and swipe phony packages

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - The holiday shopping season is fast approaching and that means porch pirates will be on the prowl looking for packages to swipe.

One San Diego man has already fallen victim, but he fought back by setting out phony packages as bait and catching the crooks on camera.

Lance McDonald in Morena said the hammock and battery charger he ordered for $35 on Amazon were stolen.

“It was not a monetary thing. It was more of an invasion of privacy,” he said.

Amazon refunded his money, but after the first package theft, McDonald installed more cameras and he fooled the thieves.

“That caused me to buy a security system. That is how I reacted – I was irritated.”

McDonald also placed three bait packages filled with tile. “I put old tile, useless tile. Something that was heavy enough to think something was in there.”

It only took a day for two thieves to walk in McDonald’s alleyway and swipe the fake packages. He then placed another package filled with tile, but this time placed a note.

Package thefts are so common, Lance said when he reported it to San Diego Police he was told, “this crime is rampant and they [thieves] almost never get caught.”

A recent study showed 30 percent of Americans have had a package stolen. Wal-Mart and Amazon Prime now have a “key” which allows a courier to enter a home and drop off a package.

There are also Amazon, UPS and FedEx lockers throughout San Diego where packages can be dropped off.

“The whole advantage is the convenience of Amazon. If we have to get in our cars and pick up our packages, it’s lost.”

McDonald said he hopes that by fooling the thieves they will stay away but he still wants them caught.

“I would love to have these people punished.”

Consumer advocates recommend you track your package. Amazon now takes a picture of your delivery. If you cannot get it delivered to your office, re-route and/ or re-schedule a delivery and require a signature at delivery.

San Diego police told News 8 that if there is surveillance video, they often use that in their investigation. Police also said they will review the online neighborhood website “NextDoor” – where neighbors share crimes and video in their community.

In a statement to News 8, Amazon said:

“The vast majority of deliveries make it to customers without issue. In the rare case something occurs, we work with customers directly to make it right.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Amazon also provided the following tips for anyone who may use its delivery services:

On Packages:
- Amazon customers are able to track their packages on after they have placed their order. 
- Amazon Customer Service is available 24/7 to help customers with any matters related to their package delivery.

On Amazon Locker:  
- Amazon Locker is an alternative for individuals who prefer not to have their packages left at a doorstep. Amazon customers can search for lockers by zip code or address, here:
- Amazon Lockers are self-service delivery locations where customers can pick up and return packages. Lockers are available in and around a number of cities, including San Diego, and allow customers to pick up their packages at a time and place that's convenient for them. 

On Amazon Key:
- Amazon Key is a new service exclusively for Prime members that radically improves the convenience of receiving deliveries and granting secure home access for guests. Amazon Key enables in-home delivery plus lets customers allow trusted people like their house cleaner, dog walker or friends into their home. Customers who purchase and install the Amazon Key In-Home Kit can take advantage of in-home delivery for no extra charge.
- Amazon Key is initially available in 37 cities and surrounding areas across the U.S. Customers can check availability on
- To learn more about Amazon Key, visit

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