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Porch pirates are back and Nassau County has them

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Between Nov. 16 and 22, there were four reported thefts of delivered packages outside homes in Cedarhurst, Lawrence, North Woodmere and Woodmere, according to Nassau County police.

Apparently, the rash of such incidents caught the attention of Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran as they both spoke at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola on Dec. 5.

“Right now, the number one crime spree in Nassau County is these porch pirates,” Ryder said. That is term given to people who steal delivered packages from the outside of homes.

“It’s the season for giving and unfortunately the season for taking,” Curran said. “With porch pirates being on the rise, our police department is teaming up with Ring for a collaboration to crack down on porch pirates.”

To help reduce, if not eliminate these thefts, county police partnered with Ring, makers of the doorbell camera, to have Nassau residents download the Ring app for free. A Ring doorbell camera is not needed to access the app.

“When a crime occurs in a community, we will ‘geo-fence’ the area and send the information to the Ring law enforcement portal,” Ryder said. A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. A geo-fence could be dynamically generated — as in a radius around a point location or a geo-fence can be a predefined set of boundaries. Those that do have the Ring camera, Ryder added: “We do not have access to your camera.”

Earlier this year, in an effort to thwart the porch pirates, Hewlett Harbor village ran what officials called Operation Private Eyes, a resident-based and -controlled security program that aimed to expand individual home security into a virtual neighborhood watch program across Hewlett Harbor. Ring’s Doorbell 2 camera was available for purchase at a $40 discounted rate for seven days in May. Purchase was optional not mandatory.

The Doorbell 2 camera is motion-sensitive, and homeowners can put it not only near their front door, but also on side entrances to their homes. They will be notified via the Ring app if there is any activity captured by their cameras. They can even talk through the camera to the person standing in front of it. If they believe there is suspicious activity, they can view the footage and send it to village security or the county police.

Curran also offered advice on how people could foil the porch pirates. “When selecting shipping options, you can choose to sign for the package,” she said. “You can also shop local and support your community.”