NBC New York
It's that time of year, when packages are coming in the mail -- but if you're one of those who has ordered online or are waiting for a present, be warned: Porch bandits are on the prowl, taking your gifts. Greg Cergol reports
Police on Long Island are hunting a Grinch-like thief who has been stealing holiday packages delivered to area homes, grabbing them off porches just after they are delivered by mail carriers.
One victim in Hicksville even saw the theft in action when he reviewed his surveillance video after waiting for a package that never turned up.
"I was just disgusted that someone would prey on people's holiday gifts," said homeowner John Blazich, who showed NBC New York the video of a man stealing a package containing clothing that was supposed to go to his daughter.
The video shows a car pulling into the Blazich driveway. The driver exits, runs to the front door, grabs the package, then flees in his car.
"We have people we suspect are roaming neighborhoods, either following trucks or just seeing packages delivered at the front door," said Detective Lt. Kevin Smith of Nassau Police.
Mike Christiana, another victim of the porch bandit, wondered if economic pressures were spurring the crimes.
"It's just a tough time," said Christiana, who had packages with kids' toys taken from in front of his Hicksville home the same day as Blazich. "People need money. It's sad."
Packages have been taken from at least three other Hicksville homes in recent days, according to area residents.
The thefts bothered one homeowner so much she posted a note on her front door urging package carriers not to leave deliveries there.
"We're having all our packages delivered to UPS and we're picking them up at the UPS office," said neighbor Clorinda Palandri.
Tracking packages and having them delivered to a business or home where someone can pick them up are the best ways to stop the thieves, said Smith.
Police are now analyzing Blazich's surveillance video, hoping it hem find the thief.
Despite the recent theft, a package sat unattended on the Blazich doorstep Wednesday. It was, said John Blazich, an act of defiance against those trying to destroy the Christmas spirit.
"My wife ordered some stuff and had them sent right here," said Blazich. "She's not going to let the criminals win."