Residents of the Daybreak community, in South Jordan, Utah, have come up with a brilliant strategy to ward off thieves this Christmas. They’ve taken to placing fake Amazon packages filled with junk on their front porches, in order to keep the real stuff safe.
According to realtor Kroger Menzer, Daybreak is a tight-knit community of about 4,000 homes and 15,000 people who all know each other very well well. For the past few years, many of them faced the same problem during the holidays – thieves would steal the packages that were delivered to their front door. So when a resident named Jeff posted the fake-package idea on Facebook, it caught on pretty quickly.
“When Jeff came up with the idea, it spread like wildfire,” Menzer said. “The post spread to Riverton and Herriman. That’s why it’s going to work, because it’s not just a half a dozen homes doing it. It’s a whole community.” The contents of the decoy packages will vary. Menzer says some people plan to put in old electronics while others are going with rocks. A few altruistic folks want to throw in some clothes, which might eventually be donated to the needy. And some people want to use the idea to actually catch thieves, so they’re installing tracking devices on the boxes.
While the idea is certainly creative, a few law enforcement officials in Utah believe that the residents shouldn’t attempt to engage with thieves or try to apprehend them. “It’s a crime that only takes about 15 or 20 seconds,” said Lt. John Barker from the Unified Police Department. “To jump out of a car in front of a residence and run up, grab the package off the porch and they’re gone.” He explained that trying to catch a thief in the act is not a good idea: “if you’re by yourself, you’re probably not going to win that battle.”
Instead, Barker said he preferred residents use surveillance videos to record evidence of theft. “If it’s a good system, they can get some very good pictures,” he said. “If you can get the car, and especially the license plate, that’s very helpful in tracking these individuals down.” He also recommended picking up packages at service locations as a great way to avoid theft.
But the residents of Daybreak say that while they trust the police, they also want to help fight crime. “They (police) can’t be everywhere all the time,” Menzer said. “The goal isn’t to catch them in the act, that’s for the police. The goal is to make it confusing and frustrating. So they come and steal a box, and they get home and it’s a bunch of rocks, there’s a good chance they’re not going to come back to steal another box.”