Baker City Police cited three suspects on Christmas Eve as part of an investigation into a series of “porch pirate” thefts of packages from local homes.
Eliannah Elise Banister, 22, whom police listed as a transient, was cited for mail theft, a Class C felony, along with two male juveniles, ages 15 and 16.
Police believe the trio took packages from at least two homes, Police Chief Ray Duman said this morning.
Officers recovered a few items as well as packaging from one of the suspects’ homes, Duman said.
One of the items contained food, some of which had been eaten, and Duman said the intended recipient didn’t want what was left.
Police also recovered a pair of shoes, but as of this morning they hadn’t determined who was supposed to receive that package.
Duman said police started investigating after taking multiple reports, over a few days before Christmas, from residents who believed packages had been stolen from their porches.
Officers talked with employees from UPS about the volume of deliveries, and they also learned about three possible suspects who had been seen on Ninth Drive on Dec. 22, Duman said.
Police confirmed that those suspects were Banister and the two teenagers.
Duman said police also set up a “sting” operation in which empty packages were placed on porches, but none of those items was taken.
Police have some other suspects, but no arrests are pending, Duman said.
“At this point we don’t have enough to go on,” he said.
Although “porch piracy” reports increase during the holidays, Duman said he thinks the prevalence of free shipping from retailers means the crime will not be limited to one season.
“We’re starting to see a lot more packages coming through, and I think it will be a constant issue throughout the year,” Duman said.
He recommends residents try to ensure someone is home when a package is likely to be delivered, or have it delivered to their workplace if that’s possible.
Duman also encourages residents to report any suspicious activity at neighbors’ homes, and to get a license plate number or description of suspects.