RACINE -- Two suspected porch pirates in Racine are behind bars all thanks to some watchful neighbors. Investigators say 31-year-old Deandre Watkins and 27-year-old Tremaine Watkins were taken into custody on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
Police were called to the area of Arlington Avenue around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, for a report of a package theft. While responding, another call came in of a package theft on Grove Avenue -- just a few blocks north of Arlington Avenue.
"First I thought what's he a delivery man? Nobody answered the door so he's taking them back rather than leaving them," said Susan Thomas, neighbor.
According to a criminal complaint, several neighbors observed a man exit a black SUV, and snatch packages from porches in the area. Authorities were able to get a description of the vehicle believed to be involved, along with a partial license plate number.
Officials located a black SUV that matched the description of the vehicle in question at an apartment on Hickory Grove Avenue in Racine. There, officials found Deandre Watkins and Tremaine Watkins, along with several open boxes and packaging labels.
Neighbors say it's unnerving.
"I have a system that I just plugged in today," said Thomas.
Both men have been charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft - as party to a crime.
As far as the packages the men are accused of stealing, investigators say one box was filled with office chair wheels.
Racine police are asking for any additional information you may have about this investigation. Any witnesses, or citizens with information, are urged to call the Racine Police Department Investigations Unit at 262-635-7756. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 262-636-9330, or text 274637 (CRIMES). Text message should begin with RACS.
Police shared the following tips to help protect your items this holiday season:
- Don’t let your packages sit – Monitor when your packages are expected to arrive. Many businesses provide a tracking number so you can see when your package does arrive.
- Talk to your neighbors – If you have neighbors who are home during the day, consider asking them to collect your packages on the delivery date.
- Ship to an alternate address – Some companies allow you to ship your packages directly to your place of business. Also, consider shipping your packages to a friend or relative’s home.
- Ship to the store – Some retailers allow you to ship to a store near you. This may not be as convenient but it does provide security and helps avoid long lines at the register. Some stores even offer special parking near the entrance.
- Hi tech solutions – If you order packages all year round, it may be wise to invest in security cameras or mobile apps on your smart phones.
- Install a package lockbox – A lockbox can be installed on your front porch. Once installed, share your code with your delivery service.
- Signature on delivery - Consider having your packages delivered only when someone is available to sign for them.
- Insure your holiday packages – Package thefts increase around the holidays and it may be wise to insure your packages this time of year. This way, if your package is stolen, you can be reimbursed for your loss.
- Ship to your local pack and ship store – If you have a UPS, FedEx, or other locally owned packing and shipping store nearby, consider sending your packages there.