Package lost, generosity gained City couple seeks to return phone to thief after he dropped it on porch

Karma came knocking in record time for a thief who poached a package from the porch of a St. Boniface couple’s home.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/03/2022 (186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Karma came knocking in record time for a thief who poached a package from the porch of a St. Boniface couple’s home.

A box of hot tub water testing strips from Amazon was lifted from the front steps of the Maes’ home Sunday afternoon — the first package the family lost to theft. Javan Maes, 32, and Rachel Maes, 30, weren’t upset about the loss, which set them back about $15. Amazon agreed to refund the purchase.

“Nobody’s going to buy hot tub test strips from some guy,” Javan said, with a laugh.

Nevertheless, the husband and wife did some sleuthing to put a face to the crime.

Maes said home security footage showed the cellphone falling from the thief’s pocket. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

They broke the case almost immediately. The family’s security camera footage showed a person approaching the home shortly after the testing strips had been delivered. The man crept to the side of the porch before scaling the railing and ducking low to the ground to avoid the camera’s gaze.

He then left with the box in hand.

With the testing strips out of the picture, the family’s focus shifted to a second delivery — a set of chairs — set to arrive the next day. Via the security camera, Javan saw a Canpar courier drop off the packages and he went to retrieve them right away, to avoid a repeat theft.

To his surprise, a cellphone was on top of one of the boxes. He called Canpar to see if its employee had left it behind. No luck.

A closer inspection of the previous day’s video showed the cellphone falling from the thief’s pocket.

“I thought, Of course that’s his phone; it’s exactly where he bent over to steal our Amazon package,” Rachel said.

Later, the second courier picked it up and placed it on one of the boxes of chairs.

“We just found it hilarious because what a twist of fate,” Javan said. “He lost something worth way more than what he stole.”

“Hey man, if you want your phone back, come and get it.”–Javan Maes

Const. Jay Murray, public information officer for the Winnipeg Police Service, said in an email Wednesday that anecdotally, he’s seen theft numbers grow with the increase of parcel shipping in general.

The WPS’s property crime unit investigates all thefts, including package thefts. These cases are typically assigned to a detective, Murray added.

Accurately tracking thefts of this nature can be challenging, he explained, as the crimes often go unreported. Sometimes they are reported by both the buyer and the seller. Other times, it’s simply the case of an item lost in transit.

The Maes didn’t file a police report for their stolen package.

Instead, Javan had this message for the thief: “Hey man, if you want your phone back, come and get it.”

Javan, who’s a mental health therapist, said he feels bad for the thief, who he worries may have been experiencing homelessness, as it appeared he was sporting a backpack full of possessions.

Javan Maes found a cellphone Wednesday which he believes belongs to the thief who took his parcel . (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)
“When people are hurting for a hit of meth or a hit of crack, it’s really urgent. There’s a lot of causes that drive people to steal,” Javan said.

If the thief doesn’t return to retrieve his property — and the family doubts he will — Javan plans to wipe the Samsung Galaxy A11’s data clean then gift it to one of the youth in care he knows through work.

“In case they need it for emergencies, just give it to someone in need,” Javan said.

Police offered a few tips on how to avoid falling victim to package thefts. Consider having an item delivered to a neighbour, friend or secure location if you’re not home when the courier arrives. Another idea is to create areas outside the home where couriers can tuck boxes out of view from the street.

Police also recommend using video surveillance to track the arrival of one’s package — or, in the case of the Maes family, to solve a mystery, too.


Updated on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 7:05 PM CDT: Adds video of thief

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