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Categorized | City Hall Corner, News

Porch Pirates and the Neighborhood Watch

By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager

It is no secret that I love senior citizens. Our elders have been there before, they’ve already made that mistake and can help you avoid making it, they know the way through the maze and they tend to take a more historical perspective on the problems of the moment. Retired persons are some of the most reliable volunteers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with as they have the time, knowledge and desire to continue being productive members of society. Every time I vote, its almost entirely the older ladies working to make sure everything runs smoothly at the precinct, ensuring the safety of our democracy.

The love and respect that I have for our seniors, however, is tempered by the fact that there is no more effective neighborhood watch on the planet than neighborhood grandparents. When I was a little boy, I used to get in trouble with my parents for something that I did blocks away from my home. It wasn’t until I was older that my parents informed me that the neighborhood grandparents kept a watchful eye on all the neighborhood kids and kept the parents informed of their kid’s misdeeds.  

Which leads me to the topic of the day and that is porch pirates—especially in these December weeks leading up to the holidays. With postal services delivering packages to porches on a daily basis, there is always the possibility that there is a “porch pirate” seeking to rob you of your deliveries. Porch pirates are criminals who will steal deliveries off front porches hoping to steal something expensive. This crime has become more prevalent over the last several years due to the increase in e-commerce and has caught the eye of the Michigan government, which recently passed a new law making the punishment for committing this box-banditry more severe. Under the new law, which takes effect this month, if somebody intentionally steals any piece of mail from another person, the first offence shall be punished with up to a year in jail, any second or subsequent offense shall be punished by up to five years in prison.

So, while these stiffer punishments are likely to deter some people from being package plunderers, it is not the complete solution to the problem. To help defeat seasonal swipers we should all keep track of our online purchase deliveries, install recording cameras for your porches (doorbell cameras are very popular), know and look out for your neighbors, keep an eye on suspicious behavior and thank our neighborhood seniors who form the best neighborhood watch that anyone can ask for.  

Please call and report suspicious behavior to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at their non-emergency phone number of 616-632-6100 or call 911 if you see a crime being committed or any other emergency.

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