Suspected serial package thief arrested in Crystal City

Police in Arlington County, Virginia, are working to reconnect stolen packages with their owners after the arrest of a Springfield man suspected in a series of thefts.

Haroon Cheema, 36, was arrested around 1:10 p.m. Sunday after patrol officers saw him go to a vehicle without any license plates that was parked in Crystal City in the 300 block of 23rd Street South, Arlington County police said.

“Our officers located the individual as he was exiting a residential building. He was carrying a bag that was concealing alleged stolen packages, and upon execution of a search warrant, we located additional stolen packages inside his vehicle,” police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.

One of the arresting officers on Sunday noticed that Cheema’s car matched the description of a vehicle associated with a package theft report he took on Dec. 27.

Cheema is charged with four counts of petit larceny and possession of burglarious tools. Police anticipate additional charges will be filed.

Packages getting stolen is an issue year-round, and police have tips to help prevent residents from becoming a victim.

“Package thefts are often crimes of opportunity, with individuals targeting items left unattended or out in plain view,” Savage said. “Think ahead about your delivery options.”

Suggestions for preventing porch pirates from pilfering packages include having them delivered to work, or to an at-home neighbor’s house, or giving instructions when ordering for items to be placed out of sight at side or back doors. Track the progress of packages and upon arrival bring them inside quickly.

Also, FedEx will deliver packages to Walgreens for you to pick up at your convenience. Amazon offers neighborhood-based locker locations where packages can be delivered and stored securely.

Finally, if you suspect that your package has been stolen, report the theft to the business where you made your purchase and to the police.

“File a police report with your local police department. It helps us in being able to track cases, such as this, and in identifying and locating victims in these cases,” Savage said.

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