Police: Surveillance video helps capture suspected porch pirate

Oceanway resident warns others to get security cameras, track package deliveries

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A suspected porch pirate was caught on camera, taking packages in broad daylight last week from homes in the Oceanway neighborhood on Jacksonville's Northside, authorities said.

A homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous, told News4Jax on Monday that the crystal clear video from her surveillance cameras was key in finding the suspect, who police identified as Jessy Van Meter.

Van Meter, 26, is charged with four counts of burglary and one count of dealing in stolen property. 

Since the surveillance video was so clear, according to the homeowner, police were able to arrest the suspect the next day. 

"The evidence is so solid," the homeowner said. "We would have never caught him without the video."

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, police set up a stakeout and watched as Van Meter drove through neighborhoods in the Eagles Hammock and Victoria Lakes subdivisions, and then stop and take packages out, put them on the roof and go through the contents.

Officers said they followed Van Meter to a pawn shop, where he sold an Apple watch that had been ordered by one of the victims. The pawn shop transaction was recorded on the store’s surveillance system and that was taken into evidence.

Police said other packages that had been discarded by Van Meter were recovered from a dumpster.

He was arrested after a traffic crash Dec 5. 

The Oceanway homeowner encourages other people to get surveillance and to track their online orders closely to prevent porch pirates from stealing packages. 

"To prevent it, put out the security cameras. That's a big help," she said. "It's a deterrent."

Along with having security cameras, there are several other ways to prevent package thefts, according to experts. 

One way is using smart packaging lockers, such as Amazon Locker, or having packages delivered to your workplace. You can also reroute or reschedule a delivery if you won't be home when your package is expected to arrive. 

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