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Package thefts nearly double in Denver while arrests drop

Denver Police said it’s due to a manpower problem, and that it’s a low-priority crime. They said the key is not leaving packages out in the open.

DENVER — Thousands of packages are reported as stolen each year in Denver, but 9NEWS found few thieves face accountability. 

Denver Police Department data shows they have arrested someone in 3.4% of 1,203 package theft incidents so far in 2022.

Teresa Gillian, a community resource technician with the Denver Police Department, said a delay between the alleged theft happening and the homeowner reporting it, along with a lack of witnesses, can make it difficult to figure out suspects.

Graphic created by Zack Newman.

“They’re unfortunately hard to prosecute,” Gillian said. “Sometimes we get good footage from Ring doorbells, or if the suspect has their face covered or if there’s not other identifiable factors, it makes it harder for our investigators to track down leads. The key with this issue is prevention.”

The number of package theft incidents nearly doubled in Denver from 631 in 2017 to 1,203 so far in 2022. However, the number of arrests went down by 32%. There have been 41 thefts with arrests in 2022. 

Graphic created by Zack Newman.

Gillian attributes the trend to a lack of officers dedicated to the problem.

“I think it goes back to manpower,” she said.

Even when considerable resources are put towards trying to prevent “porch pirates,” it does not guarantee arrests will happen. In December 2018, the Aurora Police Department instituted “Operation Grinch Grab,” where they partnered with Amazon, 7PSolutions and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in a comprehensive publicity stunt designed to use Amazon and 7PSolutions products to prosecute people stealing packages.

9Wants to Know received a series of emails between APD and the companies through an open records request. 

Amazon and 7PSolutions provided supplies like 15 Ring doorbells, 15 GPS trackers, branded boxes and lithium ion stickers. APD Captain Stephen Redfearn wrote in an email that the police department had identified eight problematic zip codes they wanted to focus on.

Credit: 9NEWS

But no one was arrested because of it.

“As of now, we have not yielded any arrests,” Officer Matthew Longshore said in an email obtained by 9NEWS. “I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad about that! Ha. Maybe happy that no one in the areas we are in are victims of package theft but sad that we won’t be able to showcase an arrest.”

The outcome of the operation was first reported by VICE. APD did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Gillian said people can prevent their packages from being nabbed by sending packages to an office or by coordinating with a neighbor to pick up a package off their porch.

Read about our data process here. 

Reach investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola at jeremy.jojola@9news.com.

Reach investigative reporter Zack Newman through his phone at 303-548-9044. You can also call or text securely on Signal through that same number. Email: zack.newman@9news.com. Call or text is preferred over email.

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