A Reader’s Experience Dealing with a Package Thief and MPD


Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Every year readers write in warning of package thieves around this time of year. Here’s one reader’s frustrating experience:

Thursday, while my wife and I were at work, my parents were at our house taking care of our daughter. Around 4PM, my dad observed a black female (medium height, slightly more than medium build, red in her hair) pushing one of those collapsible grocery carts down our street. She got to our house – stopped, looked both ways – and scooted up the stairs. She grabbed a package that had apparently been left for us by the mailman, hustled down the stairs, back onto the sidewalk and started walking away.

My dad busted out the front door (along with one of our dogs) and confronted her. At this point, she turned sweet as pie and started saying that the girl who lives in the house had asked her to come by and pick up any packages and hold them for her. This is not true. She continued and said that the package in question was a special present for the woman of the house’s boyfriend. My dad pointed out that the woman who lives there is married, so no boyfriend. Her response “Oh, she has a boyfriend too!”.

Anyway, mad dad calls her on her BS and takes the package away from her. She walks off towards Grant Circle and say’s she’ll be back to visit her friend. It’s worth noting that her collapsible cart was full. There was a blanket or jacket of some sort on top, and it was not clear what was in there. Obviously, my guess is that there were more packages in there. Also, obviously, she never came back to check in with us.

The next day, my wife stopped our mailman and told him what had happened. He immediately knew who the woman was, because a person fitting the exact description had tried to take packages out of his mail truck a few weeks prior with a similar story that she was to hold packages for friends (even though she didn’t know what names were on those packages). He gave us her address, which I’m not going to list here because I don’t want to be responsible for vigilante justice. It is fair to say, however, that if you’re in one of the houses near Grant Circle with a sign on your door about packages being stolen, I believe the culprit leaves very near to you.

So Thursday, my parents called the police to report the attempted theft almost immediately after it happened, but after a few hours of waiting, they had to get home so they left. The police were then supposed to come over on Friday to get a statement from my parents, but never showed up.

After a phenomenal effort by 4D officers to say anything to avoid having to fill out paperwork or make any sort of effort, we finally got them to take a proper police report Saturday morning. We fought through half an hour of the officers at the desk of 4D HQ trying to throw reasons at us as to why they could not do anything. Some highlights included “She just sounds like she’s crazy” and “it’s the mailman’s fault”. We outlasted them and they took a report.

I received a follow-up call from the officers attempting to confirm the address of the woman we believe has been stealing packages. I gave it to them and truly hope they are acting on it.

So that’s the story. Whether she is indeed crazy, or if she’s Robin Hood, or if she’s just making extra money selling stolen stuff, I really don’t care. She tried to steal a Christmas present for my baby girl – I just can’t shrug that off.

74 Comment

  • Isn’t stealing mail a Federal offence?

    • Yes, it is. It might be more effective to call the Postal police service. Then again, why didn’t the postman report this woman to his postal service superiors?

    • Not once it has been delivered. At that point it is your property and is no longer a federal offense.

      • Mail is always your property. Mail is protected because you have an expectation of privacy in your own letters and writings.

        Delivery occurs when the intended recipient actually receives the package. A letter or package placed in the recipient’s mailbox, or on their front porch, is not considered ‘delivered’.

        18 USC § 1702 – Obstruction of correspondence:

        “Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

  • Craziness. MPD needs to streamline their paperwork process as it’s currently disincentivizing cops from doing their job. Then again, officers are probably under a lot pressure from top brass to not report any crimes AT ALL, short of violent crimes, in order to keep the crime rate down.

    What a bureaucratic clusterf*ck.

  • Typical for MPD. They wanted to do the absolute minimum to solve my armed robbery at gunpoint case, and even after I did all of my own detective work and gave them all of the info they needed to arrest the guys, they ended up bungling the evidence so badly that the culprits got away with it. I don’t bother calling the police for anything anymore.

    • Same here. They refuse to follow up on a hit and run case that caused $3000 of damage to my car. Not only was the driver identified by a witness, but he also confessed to my insurance company. Slam dunk, you’d think. Nope. MPD told me they only pursue a hit and run if someone was hurt.

  • Grant Circle seems to have a lot of robberies these days.

    • If you’re in 4D and having problems email Cmdr. Chisley-Missouri directly. She’s pretty responsive.

      • This. I have had generally excellent experience with 4D — especially the LTs and Commanders, but the officers as well.

        • I have to chime in here, I’ve (unfortunately) had to report both a robbery and a burglary at my home. Both times, the officers who responded were prompt and professional. I only wish they could find the perps.

  • Great job following up on this and posting on the blog. It seems like nothing will get done without crazy exposure on blogs and public uproar. Thanks for your tenacity. You are doing the right thing!

  • My own experience with MPD and having my purse stolen was similarly troubling. After trying to call the detective back for two weeks, I finally got a hold of him, and he screamed at me that he never had my case, even though we had spoken multiple times before.

  • Don’t quit your day job.

  • Crime is down in DC, folks. Crime is down! Stop reporting otherwise!

    • This is about MPD responding hours late to a reported crime, then resisting making a report. It is IRRELEVANT whether crime is trending up or down. This is unacceptable.

    • Yeah, but the question raised by stories like this is whether crime is down because less of it is happening or because officers do everything they can to avoid documenting reports of crimes.
      There was a story on “This American Life” awhile back about a precinct in NYC that experienced major reductions in crime and was celebrated for its crime reduction efforts. But it turned out that the reduction was due to officers convincing complainants not to file police reports and/or reporting the least possible offense that could be documented.

    • Frankie James

      What is wrong with you “Non-sence” contributors.

      Like less crime makes it ok. I find it unbelievable that people think that, especially in our little part of town where such great strides have been made over a not so bright past.

      Why is zero tolerance such an unacceptable goal?

      That is as bad as, “well that is the price we pay to live in the city.”

      Go back inside and watch the world go by.

  • I always find it strange how the NYPD can catch a murderer in days with a blurry photo of half of the back of the guy, and the DCPD can’t catch a thief even when basically handed the criminal on a plate.

    (Not saying NY is better than DC – just comparing what I read in the news from the the two cities where I split my time.)

  • post the address or stop whining

    • What are the chances it’s her real address? When getting caught in a lie, the best way to handle it is with another lie… Unless she really is that dumb.

  • Oh, this one sounds smart! That’s actually a *very* good cover story about why you stole if you got confronted. Sounds like “mad dad” wasn’t the first one to call her on her bullshit. Sad thing is, I bet it’s worked for her before and people who’ve called her out have let her go after she said it :(

  • hopefully she still has stolen goods in her house when/if the police arrive. If you haven’t already, I’d send your story to Councilwoman Bowser and to Commander Missouri, they seem (from the listserve) to be responsive.

    I’ve been worried all season that the packages I’ve ordered would be stolen from my front porch since my government agency prohibits any personal mail/deliveries to be made at the office.

    • Is a real waste of time to call DC police, they do not want any crime report so the crime rate looks low. I have seen guys stealing green trash can very early in the morning with a lot of noise, but the patrol never see anything.

  • “Oh, she has a boyfriend too!”. That made me laugh. Sorry.

    I wonde if calling te postal police woudl be a better option. Isn’t tampering with the mail a federal offense?

  • When I had packages stolen, the Police came promptly and filled out a report on the spot. I wasn’t expecting to get the packages, but they were valuable and I needed a police report to file with my homeowner’s insurance.

  • This was happening at my house so we put a camera in the front window with a sign saying “Smile, you’re on camera” and talked to the fedex and UPS guys and they have since been putting the packages under our stairs. Nothing has been stolen since…

  • Free dog poop for anyone who wants to leave a box of it on their porch. ;-)

  • @the OP: thank you for being persistent in reporting this – as someone else suggested, it would be great if you also follow up with your council member and the police commander to make sure something is done. Your entire neighborhood will be better off if this woman is stopped!

  • This isn’t really the police’s fault. First, the proper authority is the Postal Inspector. Second, and this is really important, All you f**ers who don’t sit on juries, and even worse, sit on juries, pretend you’re some civil rights hero and don’t convict are the reason the police can’t do their job.

    • these cases get pled out or dropped before they get to juries…

      • PDMtP

        But prosecutors are convinced that DC juries don’t want to convict, and that affects their decisions. True.

        And you should do jury duty. It’s your legal and moral responsibility – and seriously, if you don’t, shut the f up about how the police are lazy. You are part of the problem.

        • Why are you assuming people don’t show up for jury duty? When I showed up, there were easily over a hundred other people there.

          • Stop trying to get out of “GRAND” jury. That’s the one you really need to be on. It has to pass the GJ before it can be plead. Most folks who read POP try to get out of it I’m guessing because it’s so long and inconvenient. Get your butt in there. It’s an amazing experience.

          • PDMtP

            I didn’t say you don’t. I said IF you don’t. And yes, a lot of people try to get out of it on the theory that they’re too busy or important (including by answering the voir dire in a way sure to get them kicked off, which I’ve seen – showing up for one day is not the end of the story). If you don’t, great.

    • More than 90% of prisoners are sentenced without benefit of a jury trial, thanks to that key enabler of America’s hyperincarceration: coercive plea agreements.

      The criminal “justice” system doesn’t look anything like what you see on TV.

  • I think you can file petty crime reports online yourself now (I did this recently) and it’s pretty easy AND I got a call back the very next day for follow-up. Check on MPD’s website… it was a few months ago for me but I remember it being pretty easy to find and complete. That way you don’t have to deal with officers if you don’t want to.

  • We all owe thanks to the OP for not letting this matter go — and marching down to the 4D HQ on a Saturday, insisting on a police report, and sharing this with Popville. Each of us who says police inaction is unacceptable should follow the OP’s example of refusing to accept it.

    Thanks also to POP for giving this prominence.

  • why does anyone think that it is safe to leave a package on the doorstep in DC? never has been, never will be…..same for any other city, except maybe Mayberry (Aunt Bea always keeps her eyes and ears open)

    • Some of us don’t have a choice. I for one, can’t receive packages at work. My only other option is to have them delivered to a friend’s house, which I do for expensive purchases, but I can’t do that for all of my purchases, since I do most of my shopping online.

      • Curse those anthrax attackers – they made package deliveries to Federal agencies impossible.

      • Or ask the mailman/post a note asking for packages to be held at the PO

        • Is that a real option offered by USPS? I’ve never heard of that before.

        • Not to be a wet blanket, but…

          The drawbacks of this are that most retailers these days seem to ship by a non-USPS method, and that depending on your work hours and your post office’s hours, you might not be able to pick up your packages easily unless your post office has Saturday hours.

          • I think all package-holding/distributing POs have Saturday hours. You can also leave similar notes for couriers like UPS and FedEx and they will hold them at their (admittedly less convenient suburban) distro centers. FedEx and UPS both offer redelivery to different addresses or retail locations (Kinkos, UPS Store, etc) for some packages.

          • Hmm… when I’d tried to get UPS to deliver to a different address after a failed delivery attempt at the original address, they said that they had to deliver it to the original address, and it was either that or pick up the package in Landover.

    • I’m old enough to know that this is a recent thing. I never heard of people taking packages from someone’s front porch until the past 10 years or so. I grew up in D.C. and we never would have done such a thing and we never saw anyone do such a thing. But that was in the past, now we have have our packages delivered to our office. Then have to go through the trouble of driving downtown, hoping that we don’t get a ticket for parking in a no parking zone, then lugging a big heavy box to the car. I guess one way to prevent this kind of thing from happening is to get a post office box. I’m sorry about what happened and I’m really glad you had someone there who was able to confront the thief and get your package back.

    • Because sometimes it is safe – I lived on far H st NE in Carver, and had many packages delivered and left next to my steps. Granted, I made an effort to know my neighbors – and I know the lady across the street signed for some, but none of my zillion Amazon boxes were swiped or compromised. A little bit of effort + a little bit of luck.

  • I had my wallet stolen a while back. I reported it to MPD, a very nice officer came over and interviewed me. I told her how one of my credit cards had been used at a store. She told me all about how the detective would call me back and they could go get the surveillance footage of the culprit. I called the detective and left several messages and never heard a word. I know it was just my wallet and there are higher priority crimes, but MPD really doesn’t seem to give a shit about property crime.

  • It’s pretty sad that we’ve gotten to the point with the MPD where my “what would I do in this situation response” is grab the woman’s cart, shove her out of the way, and take it into my house and return the stuff to everyone myself.

    Screw it, post her address.

  • Thanks for conveying this story! I agree that emailing Commander Missouri and Councilmember Bowser’s office about this might be helpful. You should also include your ANC. I would also encourage you to post this on the listserv for 4D. It’s monitored by MPD, Bowser’s office, and others. I’ve seen other folks with problems have them resolved by posting on the listserv.

  • For people that can’t have packages sent to office, has anyone tried having them shipped to a UPS or FedEX store? The Columbia Heights store website says they have Package Acceptance. http://www.theupsstorelocal.com/5801/products–services

  • Sorry that the OP had to deal with this and kudos to them for getting a report written up after all.

    I am, however, annoyed that the police refused to take a report when some mail was stolen from me one time and insisted I needed to contact the postal inspector… they explained that just like metro has their own police the postal system has its own police and blah blah blah. Mail was stolen. That’s a crime. You’re the police. You need to document it.

  • why dont you go to her address steal HER mail and leave a note!!!

  • A friend of mine is dating a cop. She tells me all the time how, when out on a 911 call, he rarely writes a report (because he hates to) unless it’s “a legitimate crime.” This guy is the scum of the earth, too: racist and a jerk.

  • I’m the guy who wrote the piece that PoP was kind enough to post here. In a little bit of props to the cops, I do want to point out that MPD reached out to me today regarding this incident.

    I just had a good talk with an officer and I fully believe that their investigation into this situation will move ahead.

    Thanks to PoP and also thanks to Commander Chisley-Missouri and her team for kicking into gear on this. it is noted and appreciated.

  • I live near Grant Circle. I’ve had at least one package stolen, although it was some time ago. I have packages delivered to the UPS in Columbia Heights, which is very inconvenient, but I appreciate their service. This lady could have potentially stolen tens of thousands of dollars of people’s property.

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