Surveillance videos may be behind increase in porch pirate cases across Tampa Bay

Posted at 7:55 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 07:47:20-04

Crystal clear video shows a brazen criminal who parks in a driveway then takes off with two packages. It happened just steps away from Dennis Keefe's home in Seminole Heights.

"It's kind of normal lately," said Keefe.

Tampa police agree. They think the guy in the video is responsible for quite a few porch thefts. And Seminole Heights is not the only neighborhood seeing a spike.

"It's kind of wide spread," said Tampa police detective Amy Evans.

Detective Amy Evans said while videos can really help catch the culprits, it's also seems to encourage the crime.

"It does show people how easy it is to walk up and take anything. You don't need a specific plan to drive through the neighborhoods the items are just out there maybe putting some ideas in people heads," said Evans.

That doesn't mean police want you to get rid of security systems. They strongly encourage people still use cameras like Ring, it has help capture many suspects in action. They just want you to be more vigilant. 

That's why they recently launched "Project Rec." A program where you can register your video and they can monitor criminal activity. They need as much help as they can get.

RELATED: Tampa police looking to use your home surveillance footage

"It doesn't appear that there are any patterns in these crimes," said Evans.

And they're under reported. Police investigated 32 cases this year. But say it's a small fraction. The biggest items stolen right noware groceries and those popular cook your own meal kits like Blue Apron.

Many don't call in, like Keefe, thinking: "It is food an it's untraceable. Who is tracing chicken breast you know?" said Keefe.

But residents like Dennis do post it on social media, utilizing apps like Next Door. Police also just partnered with that app to help track security issues in local neighborhoods and they say they will continue to get videos like this out there to help get these crooks behind bars