Gotcha! Victim records doorstep theft | April 18, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - April 18, 2008

Gotcha! Victim records doorstep theft

Danville man uses web camera and 'bait' to catch a thief who was stealing his packages

by Meghan Neal

After two packages were stolen two days in a row off the doorstep of his Sycamore Circle home, Thomas Zhang said enough is enough.

On the third day, March 17, he put a faux package out and hid a web camera in the front window, aimed at the front door.

Sure enough the thief came back for round three and took off with the phony package, which was full of newspaper, garbage and bottles of water to give it a realistic weight. Zhang caught the act on video.

"I'm sick of this," said the Danville resident. "I've been here for one year and my packages were never lost before. It's surprising. It's surprising to me when I see two packages lost in two days."

Zhang hid the tiny camera, just bigger than a pen, at 8:30 a.m. when he left for work and took it down when he got back around 5 p.m. The thief showed up at noontime.

"I think this guy just has nothing to do in the daytime and he just walks around our community," Zhang said.

He reported the incident to police and gave them a copy of the video. The stolen UPS and DHL packages contained about $130 worth of technology supplies between them, according to the report.

Lt. Mark Williams said catching a thief on video can be helpful to police. They can reference the picture when future thefts are reported, or look at suspect descriptions from past crimes to see if there's a match.

"It's another brick in the wall," Williams said. "It's a piece of the puzzle we can use to bring some of these cases together."

Zhang said he doesn't necessarily think the crimes reflect on the safety of the community. But, the frequent online shopper did tell police he's had at least three dozen delivered since moving to Danville a year ago and has never had one stolen until now.

Just to be safe, he asked that one of the stolen packages ordered from Staples be redelivered directly to the local store instead of to his home.


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