Accused porch pirate stole packages from more than 20 houses, police say

TAMPA, Fla. — A west-central Florida man is accused of being the ultimate porch pirate, with more than 20 thefts attributed to him, authorities said.

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According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, Hyson Isaah Williams, 42, of Tampa, was arrested on Thursday and charged with five counts of felony petit theft, one count of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and possession of a controlled substance.

The Tampa Police Department said that Williams was arrested at about 11 p.m. EST after a traffic stop, WTVT reported.

Williams is accused of stealing packages from 20 homes in the South Seminole Heights neighborhood between Oct. 15 and Dec. 4, according to the television station.

Doorbell camera footage from those homes showed a man taking the packages from the porches and quickly leaving the scene with them, WTSP-TV reported. One video showed the alleged thief leaving the area via a bicycle.

Investigators later identified the alleged thief as Williams.

“There is no easier target for criminals than packages left in plain view,” Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw said in a statement. “Don’t let criminals enjoy the holidays at your cost. Invest in tools and put into practice techniques that conceal and protect your valuables.”

In a release, the Tampa Police Department offered some tips to minimize the risk of being victimized by a porch pirate.

  • Buy a porch lock box that receives packages and keeps them safe, such as lock boxes that can only be unlocked with a key or combination;
  • Use app features that help track a package, and ask a friend, neighbor or family member to pick up your packages once they’ve been delivered;
  • Require workers who are dropping off packages to receive a signature from you upon delivery, if possible;
  • Request for packages to be delivered at secure locations, such as Amazon lockers, FedEx or UPS stores;
  • If one must deliver a package directly to a person, let them know in advance and ask if they have a delivery preference.
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