Package thieves in Hill East have made off with presents, baby clothes and even a box filled with dog poop planted as an act of revenge — and now some residents are taking extra precautions to protect their parcels.
Frustrated with repeated package thefts, some Hill East residents have installed cameras they can monitor around the clock to fend off criminals.
Resident Ted Arthur used to coordinate a community-supported agriculture pickup at his 15th Street and Independence Avenue SE apartment building. But after thieves snatched more than 15 pounds of meat and cheese from outside, he had someone else take over the delivery.
Arthur invested about $200 on a video camera and set it up at a front-facing window.
“I want to have some extra security,” said Arthur, a government contractor who has lived in the neighborhood for more than three years. Whenever the camera picks up motion, it sends Arthur a notification and short video clip.
“My neighbors had so many problems [with theft] that they use my address to receive packages now,” he said.
A couple blocks west, resident David Heyman also chose to train a video camera on his doorstep.
“What you’re telling the bad guy is, ‘Go someplace else,'” he said. “It provides peace of mind, in addition to whatever deterrent factor is going on.”
Heyman, who noted he works for a security company, installed the motion-detecting camera after he and his wife moved from Bethesda and read on the Hill East listserv about neighbors plagued by thefts.
Even with the camera, Heyman said his family avoids having packages sit on the front stoop for long.
“If we’re planning to order something, I ask my wife her schedule so we can have it delivered when someone is home,” he said.
The number of reported package thefts has “drastically” dropped in the First District since the holiday season, Cmdr. Jeff Brown said. Package thefts peaked in December with 50 reports, and dropped in January and February, Brown said. Six cases have been closed with arrests this year thus far.
Photos courtesy of David Heyman