Spokane police hope social media, public will help deter package thefts this holiday season

<p><p>Packages are stolen from porches every day across the country, including Spokane – and the thieves typically get away with it, authorities say. </p></p><p><p>The issue escalates during the holiday season when even more packages are left unattended for hours on doorsteps.</p></p><p><p>“It’s just a chronic problem,” Spokane Police Officer Stephen Anderson said. “You see it every year around Christmastime.”</p></p><p><p>The Spokane Police Department launched a program Thursday that, using the public’s help through social media, aims to identify perpetrators and recover stolen items. The department has also dedicated an officer to investigating package thefts using security camera footage obtained by residents.</p></p><p><p>Using the footage, police will post photos of individuals that investigators are trying to identify in an album on the “City of Spokane Police Department” Facebook page, according to a Spokane police announcement.</p></p><p><p>Community members can view the album and submit tips to thefttips@spokanepolice.org. Tipsters are asked to specify the case and photo numbers – both are listed next to each photo – in the email, police said.</p></p><p><p> Police said individuals can report stolen package incidents to Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 or online at srec911.org. If security camera footage of the incident is available, note that in the report. An investigator will use the footage if needed.</p></p><p><p>Anderson said Friday that one person has already been charged using the police’s new strategy.</p></p><p><p>“It’s a good start,” he said.</p></p><p><p>Anderson said the department wanted to find a proactive approach to dealing with package thefts. He said Spokane Police Cpl. Nick Briggs hatched the idea of assigning an officer to investigate these reports and using Facebook to help identify suspects.</p></p><p><p>While the plan is to dedicate an officer to this work during the holiday season, Anderson said it would be difficult to assign the person full time throughout the year because of staffing issues.</p></p><p><p>“It’s just a great idea, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for success,” Anderson said.</p></p><p><p>He said it’s normally difficult to identify people involved in these incidents, but using Facebook – where numerous people can look at the photos – will help.</p></p><p><p>While the hope is that police will be able to identify the suspects in most cases, the new program will at least serve as a deterrent, Anderson said.</p></p><p><p>“We’re doing as much as we can to identify these individuals and hopefully charge them,” he said.</p></p>