A suburban Arizona police department is on the lookout for a criminal they have dubbed the ‘porch ninja’. Do not be surprised. It was only a matter of time before this happened. The criminal in question got his name by donning a mask to carry out what we normally refer to as ‘porch piracy’.

It is not hard for the average person to get behind reasonable efforts to prevent crime. After all, who really wants to be a victim? But here’s the ugly truth a lot of people are unwilling to face – it’s impossible to prevent crime 100%. With every prevention effort we come up with, criminals find a way to work around it.

Using video doorbells and standard surveillance cameras to prevent porch piracy is a classic example. Video doorbells worked for a while, but then porch pirates caught on. Now they have graduated from first-generation porch piracy to porch ninja crimes.

Capturing Faces on Cameras

Video doorbells were touted as the most effective way to prevent porch piracy when first introduced a number of years ago. As previously stated, they did work initially.

The main appeal here is that video doorbells capture the faces of criminals as they approach the front door. Images can be used to track down criminals and potentially prosecute them. And when the dumbest among them don’t make any attempt to cover their faces, Vivint Smart Home says that video doorbells do what they were designed to do.

Vivint also says that a video doorbell with built-in audio allows the homeowner to communicate with anyone approaching the front door. This can also be an effective deterrent because a thief doesn’t know whether someone is actually in the house or not.

A Mask and Swiftness of Foot

So now, several years after the doorbell was first introduced, we have a new generation of porch pirates willing to take their chances. With a mask and swiftness of foot, they have confidence that they can snatch packages and get away with it. And they do.

In Buckeye, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix, you now have a porch ninja roaming the streets. He keeps his face covered as he approaches, snatches, and leaves. Unless he is wearing some sort of descriptive clothing someone else could identify, having a video doorbell isn’t going to protect local residents from this person.

Follow the UPS Guy

Making matters worse are those criminals who have figured out they can score a big payday by following the UPS guy around. They just head out and drive around until they spot a UPS truck. Then they pull in behind and get to work.

The crime is fairly simple to pull off. The porch pirate follows the delivery truck at a distance. He notes where the truck stops, then waits for it to pull away and out of sight. Then he swoops in and makes the grab. He is back in his car and in pursuit of the delivery truck once again.

Fast Prosecutions and Painful Punishments

It is clear that video doorbells only have a limited impact on preventing porch piracy. Their effectiveness has certainly been short-lived. But what’s next? Where will we go from here to find the next level of prevention?

Unfortunately, criminals will always find a way around prevention efforts. The best way to stop them is a combination of fast prosecutions and painful punishments. Make crime hurt instead of allowing it to pay. That is how you stop criminals from doing what they do. If it hurts to commit crimes, they will find other things to occupy their time.