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'Porch pirates' caught on camera in Westboro theft

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2019-01-14 CBC/Radio-Canada
a car parked in a parking lot: Alexandra Muller-Gass snapped this photo of a woman in a red jacket she believes stole  one of her parcels only minutes after it was dropped off by Canada Post. © Alexandra Muller-Gass Alexandra Muller-Gass snapped this photo of a woman in a red jacket she believes stole one of her parcels only minutes after it was dropped off by Canada Post.

At least once a week, a delivery truck drops off a package at Alexandra Muller-Gass's Westboro home.

A single mother of two young children, Muller-Gass orders nearly everything online.

Last Monday, she looked out the window while nursing her baby to see a Canada Post driver leave a package in an alcove next to her mailbox.

Five minutes later, though, it was gone — stolen by the sort of thieves police have dubbed "porch pirates."

"I was stunned," said Muller-Gass, who said she saw a woman in a red coat running down her driveway to a waiting truck, package in her arms.

"How dare [she] violate my property?" 

Muller-Gass grabbed her phone and recorded the woman getting in a white pickup truck, placing the package next to the male driver, and speeding away.

"I assume they were staking out the Canada Post van because they showed up five minutes after it moved on," the civil servant said.

Muller-Gass said she reported the theft to police.

She also posted a photo she took of the woman online, in an attempt to warn others in Westboro.

Nearly four dozen people responded to her post, including a neighbour who said she saw the woman in the neighbourhood.

Several also asked Muller-Gass why she didn't try to confront her.

"I'd be scared of the people that would have the balls to do something like that," she said.

"What if I had gone downstairs to confront her? Who knows what she could have done to me." 

Thefts often unreported

While Ottawa police received reports of five similar thefts in December 2018, many more "likely go unreported," said Const. Amy Gagnon.

Gagnon said she encouraged anyone who'd been a victim of porch piracy to file a police report.

Canada Post told CBC News it's the shipper's responsibility to tell it if they don't want packages to simply be left at the home, or if they want the driver to ask for a signature.

If the item is to be "safe dropped," Canada Post said in an email that it must "only be left in a secure location."

 As for Muller-Gass, she's now asked Canada Post drivers to place her packages inside her door.

She also said the theft has left her wavering about online shopping.

The package that was stolen contained a set of bedsheets worth around $120, she said.

"I'm thinking about installing a doorbell that has a video camera in it, because we always have to be one step ahead," Muller-Gass said.

"All this delivering of stuff is the future."

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