For at least a week, a man arrested Tuesday is believed to have stolen numerous packages from Patterson porches. At least some of the thefts were right in his own neighborhood, police say.
"He lives right around the corner from where he was caught," Patterson Police Services Sgt. Joshua Clayton said Thursday. Deputies responding to a theft report were pointed in the right direction by residents and found Jose Villanueva hiding in a house under construction.
Villanueva faces multiple counts of petty theft — detectives still are compiling them as cases continue to emerge, Clayton said. And because the total value already exceeds $950, he faces a felony charge of possessing stolen property.
"If there is one thing we really hate this time of year, it’s porch pirates," Patterson police said in a Facebook post announcing Villanueva's arrest. Residents do, too, Clayton said, and it was fed-up victims sharing information and images on social media that helped lead to the suspect's capture.
Never miss a local story.
Villanueva had a female accomplice who at least drove the car used in the thefts, Clayton said. She has not been named or arrested.
The stolen property is being returned to rightful owners who have been identified. "Not all items were still in their boxes, so we still have quite a few unreturned items," the Facebook post says. "If you notice anything that belongs to you, you can come down to the PD with a receipt and we can get your property back to you."
Not all reported stolen property has been accounted for, Clayton said, because Villanueva and his accomplice may have given away or sold some of what they took.
As Christmas gift packages continue to be dropped at doorsteps, Patterson police used the Facebook post to remind residents, "Look out for one another and report any suspicious people roaming your neighborhood."
The Turlock Police Department also offered advice Thursday on Facebook on thwarting porch pirates. "Plan ahead your package deliveries for when someone is home, send them to your workplace, require a signature for delivery or ask a neighbor who is home to pick up your packages," TPD warned.