GERMANTOWN, Md. - Unfortunately, Santa and his reindeer are not the only ones making house calls this month. Some thieves have been taking advantage of all the holiday deliveries and helping themselves to packages off of residents' doorsteps.
However, some victims in Montgomery County are getting their stolen goods back after police arrested four teenagers for package thefts.
Police said they have recovered a total of 42 packages and other stolen items in two separate cases.
Police arrested 18-year-old Marcell Bennett on Tuesday after several residents in Germantown called them describing his car and saying he was following a delivery truck, and then stealing boxes left outside the front doors of homes in the area. A 17-year-old girl also riding in his car was also charged.
On Dec. 13, two 17-year-old boys were arrested near Clarksburg High School. Police said they were in a stolen car and had also been seen snagging packages from homes. A third juvenile who was driving is also expected to be charged in that case.
On Thursday afternoon, police said two additional juveniles suspected of targeting Christmas packages were taken into custody in Germantown.
Many of the items recovered were on display at the police station on Thursday as police worked to get these items back to their rightful owners. The items ranged in price and size ranging from a large chair to expensive UGG boots.
A man who picked up a pair of boots and a woman who retrieved a wallet she had purchased for her husband for Christmas were quite relieved to get their items back.
“Amazon had told me that it had been delivered and I checked on Monday and it still wasn’t there,” said Ianri Okusanya. “I thought it was a mistake until I got a call from the police department saying that recovered some stuff and I was really excited I was able to get it back.”
"I was surprised and very happy because I believe our police officers have done an awesome job,” said Hui Wu. “Because it was really quick. It happened two days ago and they got it already.”
However, some people are not as lucky in getting their stolen items back because police believe some of these suspects were taking the goods to stores and returning them as gifts and receiving gift cards back in return.
Police are urging residents to take extra precaution to ensure that their packages arrive safely.
"There are a couple of things you can do – you can have the package delivered to your work, you can have your packaged delivered to your neighbor, you can have it delivered when you are home,” said Montgomery County Police Commander Dave Gillespie. “But certainly, when packages are left on doorsteps at this time of year, as you can see, the amount of thefts that we have had, this is occurring.”
Police also said some retailers will allow you to choose the option to ship your item to the store where you can pick it up. Click here for more tips to help prevent package thefts.
Police are also asking residents to call them if they see something suspicious. Police said they were able to apprehend some of these suspects because of witnesses contacting them.
"This is a result of an alert citizen that has given us the information," said Gillespie. "None of this would have been possible without somebody seeing what happened and actually calling the police to let us know what occurred. There was also an alert UPS driver that identified somebody that had been following them."