City Desk

Don’t Touch My Package

Martha Stevenson likes to stay fashionable. But because of what she suspects is a lurking thief, that hasn't been easy of late, so she's thinking of setting up a trap.

It's been griped about on District neighborhood message boards for years now: Packages left out front by delivery drivers will sometimes vanish. Since moving to D.C. in April, that's been Stevenson's experience. She has yet to find even one package addressed to her safely waiting on her doorstep.

Hailing from Charlottesville, Va., Stevenson moved to a two-bedroom apartment off Logan Circle for a new job. After she settled into the ground floor apartment with big windows, she decided to upgrade her wardrobe.

At the beginning of May, she scoured the Web looking for bargains. Eventually, she scored a pair of Prada shoes, a dress and skirt by the Italian fashion company Missoni, and shirts by Banana Republic and Ralph Lauren. Anxious to receive her orders, she paid for priority shipping.

A month later, Stevenson hadn't received a thing. She pestered the sellers and asked her mail carrier if something was wrong. He said he'd left her items outside her door, and didn't know anything more. It wasn't just the clothes, though.

Stevenson says she later learned that two "care packages" were also missing. One of them was a welcome to the neighborhood snack made by a neighbor that hadn't even gone through the mail; the neighbor simply left the box of cashew nuts with rosemary on Stevenson's stoop. Stevenson has since figured out that she's dealing with a package absconder and gone to the police.

"The police were really responsive," says the upbeat Stevenson. But they told her that there wasn't much they could do. If she "set up some fake packages they would try to watch the house." They also encouraged her to set up a video camera to catch the mail thief like "that one guy," says Stevenson. She’ll likely do both, she says.

Stevenson says she isn't worried about revealing her future ruse on City Desk; it's unlikely the prowler will see it. She's hoping to get her stuff back once the thief is caught, but isn't counting on it. Stevenson says she understands police have more important things to do than track down mail thieves. Still, she wouldn't mind getting some justice. "I just think it's wrong," she says.

Photo by Perfecto Insecto via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 (Stevenson not pictured)

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  • briefly

    Welcome to DC. If its out in public, it is public. Have stuff shipped to your office or somewhere where it can be received securely.

  • Get Real

    This woman should be able to just look at half the people walking the streets of the District and know that her stuff would be stolen.

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