|Updated: 12/11/2012 12:25 pm
||Published: 12/10/2012 9:46 pm
An alert neighbor caught a suspected thief red-handed stealing packages from a front porch.
“The way she walked right out in the middle of the daylight and sat there and threw the packages in,” said the alert neighbor who did not want to be identified.
It’s the busiest month of the year for delivery companies and thieves are busy prowling through neighborhoods.
Police said thieves are often looking at packages to steal left on your front porch.
FOX23 News was there when police busted Christa Gross, 32, for stealing packages from front porches near 15th and Harvard, the Florence Park South neighborhood.
Alert Neighbors sent e-mails and used the “Next Door” website to communicate a woman had been seen stealing packages left by shipping companies and stuffing them in an orange bag.
Today, after 3pm, the woman was seen again.
"I saw her walk down the street and she does the double take and I thought 'okay she is up to something,'” said the witness. "I had that gut thought, maybe that's the lady who is stealing packages.”
The alert neighbor was ready to call 911 when he saw the woman steal pacakges from his neighbor's front porch adn stuff the shipments in an orange bag.
"I wasn't sure if I should run out and tackle her or if I should call the cops," said the witness.
Fortunately, he did what police recommend and called for officers.
"Neighbors paying attention and watching that is what the most important thing,” said Corporal Jacob Johnston.
The postal inspector was watching too.
"Fortunately the postal inspector was out here and had binoculars," said Johnston.
The inspector was on alert after a handful of victims in the midtown area reported a similar woman carrying an orange bag and stealing packages from front porches.
"Really, I think it's a really rude thing to do is to steal someone's Christmas gifts," said the witness.
The thief actually stole from Ken Winfrey’s business.
"She is a gutsy little lady," said Winfrey.
He owns Winfrey’s Clothiers and most of his products are shipped to his home.
"I get packages every day,” said Winfrey.
The thief left behind a package, possibly it would was too big to fit in the bag she used to stuff the stolen packages.
Winfrey said he didn’t know his packages were stolen until FOX23 told him.
"I keep a log for the clients so I am aware when packages are coming. If it had been three or fours days I would start to look for it," said Winfrey.
After the interview he thanked the witness for being watchful.
When police arrested Gross, she was staying at a home nearby and they found several stolen packages.
Shipping companies recommend you track your packages, use certify mail, require a signature, or send the package to the nearest location for the shipping company. UPS also offers “my Choice, where you can receive text or e-mail alerts when your package has arrived.
If you are not going to be home, police recommend you have the package sent to your office or to a house where someone will be home.
"I understand that is not probable when you are working and gone but the only way to keep someone to steal your packages is not leaving them out,” said Johnston.
Stealing packages is a federal offense. Police said the investigation has been handed over to the Postal Inspectors Office where Christa Gross will be facing several federal charges.