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Dog walking Amazon thieves
Police: Packages on doorstep easy pickings
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It seems so convenient.

You place an order on Amazon on a Monday, the package gets shipped out on a Tuesday and it ends up on your doorstep on a Wednesday.

No trips to specialty boutiques in the Bay Area. No having to worry about things that aren’t in your size.

But the only problem with the whole equation is that it has become convenient for thieves as well – driving around and looking for the boxes with the trademarked smile for a quick grab-and-go score that is often hard for the Manteca Police to follow up on.

A reader contacted The Bulletin last week about a group walking a gray dog around town that are snatching packages left in plain sight.

More often than not, according to Manteca Police Sergeant Jodie Estarziau, the contents are things that can’t be traced – books or clothes or video games or DVDs or gifts.

It’s the expensive packages like iPhones and iPads, she said, that give detectives the evidence and the information that they need to go after the people who are out taking things that don’t belong to them. The serial numbers and other identifying marks included in the items make it easy to prove that they’re stolen once they’re recovered, and some are even engraved on the devices themselves.

And sometimes just stealing a single item like that can constitute a felony charge simply based on its value.

“We had one incident recently where we were able to make arrests because the homeowner had video surveillance,” Estarziau said. “But if it’s an item that isn’t serialized like a bench or something like – it’s hard to prove that it wasn’t already somebody’s because there’s really no paper trail.”

But there are ways to keep your items safe.

If you’re expecting a delivery, Estarziau said, it’s always better to have a neighbor or a friend come by during the window – which are often given by big companies like FedEx and UPS – in which it’s expected and pick it up rather than leave it there all day. If it’s an expensive item that requires a signature, having it sent next door to a friend’s house that you know will be home is a safe way to combat theft. And even talking with the delivery people about placing the strategically placing packages can be the difference between getting your goods and having the neighborhood thief snagging a quick score.

“We don’t always have the luxury of having a friend that can come by or a place to send it, so having somewhere they can place the package is a great start,” Estarziau said. “Just ask the driver to find something on the doorstep. That can make the difference.”